American CrowCorvus brachyrhynchos

adult
Arthur Morris/VIREO
immature (1st yr)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult
Rob Curtis/VIREO
American Crow

Description

17-21" (43-53 cm). Stocky black bird with stout bill and fan-shaped tail. Smaller Northwestern Crow has hoarser voice; larger Common Raven has wedge-shaped tail.

Voice

Familiar caw-caw or caa-caa.

Listen

caws #2
crackoh & bell calls
caws #1
rattles
juvenile nasal calls
calls of family group

Habitat

Deciduous growth along rivers and streams; orchards and city parks. Also mixed and coniferous woods, but avoids closed coniferous forests and desert expanses.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia, central interior Canada, and Newfoundland south to southern California, Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters north to southern Canada.

Discussion

Intelligent, wary, virtually omnivorous, and with a high reproductive capacity, the American Crow is undoubtedly much more numerous than it was before the arrival of settlers. An opportunist in its feeding, the American Crow consumes a great variety of plant and animal food: seeds, garbage, insects, mice. American Crows are very social and sometimes form large communal roosts in winter with thousands of individuals. They are very aggressive and will often mob and chase away larger birds such as owls and hawks. American Crows are very sensitive to West Nile virus, recently introduced to North America. Most die within one week of infection.

Nesting

4-6 dull green eggs, spotted with dark brown, in a large mass of twigs and sticks lined with feathers, grass, and rootlets, and placed in a tree.

Similar Species

adult

Northwestern Crow

16-17" (41-43 cm). Black with a slight purplish gloss; smaller and more slender than American Crow.

adult

Chihuahuan Raven

19-21" (48-53 cm). Similar to Common Raven, but somewhat smaller. White bases on feathers of neck seldom seen. Best told by voice.

adult

Tamaulipas Crow

15" (38 cm). A small glossy crow, all black, including bill and feet. Chihuahuan Raven larger, with wedge-shaped tail; American Crow slightly larger and best distinguished by voice.

adult

Fish Crow

17" (43 cm). All black, somewhat smaller than American Crow, but size is deceptive in the field. Best told by voice.

adult

Brown Jay

14-18" (36-46 cm). Large and long-tailed. Dusky brown above with darker brown head, paler on breast and whitish on belly and flanks. Bill thick, black in adults and yellow in immatures.

adult male

Pileated Woodpecker

17" (43 cm). A crow-sized woodpecker. Black with white neck stripes, conspicuous white wing linings, and prominent red crest. Male has red "mustache," female has black.

Vireo

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