Species In This Category

About Corvids

Corvidae is a family of perching songbirds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers. In common English, they are known as the crow family, or, more technically, corvids, and include over 120 distinct species. The genus Corvus, including the jackdaws, crows, and ravens, makes up over a third of the entire family. Three species of corvids can be found at Carolina Raptor Center. These birds are found all over the world. They are considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals, having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests and tool-making ability, skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals.

Corvid Facts

  1. Some corvids, especially the crows, have adapted well to human conditions and have come to rely on "people" food for their survival. American Crows appear to have the most diverse diet of all, eating foods such as bread, spaghetti, fried potatoes, dog food, sandwiches, and livestock feed. These new food sources is contributing to population increase in some corvid species.(1)
  2. Young corvids have been known to play and take part in elaborate social games. Documented group games follow a "king of the mountain"- and "follow the leader"-type pattern. Other play involves the manipulation, passing, and balancing of sticks. Corvids also take part in other activities, such as sliding down smooth surfaces. These games are understood to play a large role in the adaptive and survival ability of the birds.(2)
  3. According to legend, the Kingdom of England will fall if the ravens of the Tower of London are removed. It had been thought that there have been at least six ravens in residence at the tower for centuries. It was said that Charles II ordered their removal following complaints from John Flamsteed, the Royal Astronomer. However, they were not removed because Charles was then told of the legend. Charles, following the time of the English Civil War, superstition or not, was not prepared to take the chance, and instead had the observatory moved to Greenwich.
  4. Flocks of birds in flight are a great example of collective behavior.  In single species flocks, interactions among individual birds follow simple rules, generating the complex patterns and coordinated movements exhibited by these groups of birds in flight. In a mixed species flock of corvids, researchers have shown that the larger and more socially dominant of a single species will position themselves near the leading edge of the flock. Neighboring birds align themselves in the same direction if they are of the same species. Moreover, pairs of the same species often fly especially close to each other. (4)
  5. Despite the fact that most corvids are not threatened (many even increasing due to human activity) a few species are in danger. For example, the destruction of the Southeast Asian rainforests is endangering mixed-species feeding flocks with members from the family Corvidae. Also, since its semiarid scrubland habitat is an endangered ecosystem, the Florida Scrub Jay has a small and declining population. A number of island species, which are more vulnerable to introduced species and habitat loss, have been driven to extinction, such as the New Zealand Raven, or are threatened, like the Mariana Crow. (5)
  6. One carrion crow was documented to crack nuts by placing them on a crosswalk, letting the passing cars crack the shell, waiting for the light to turn red, and then safely retrieving the contents. Watch video (6)

Corvid Sources

  1. Source: Marzluff, John M.; Neatherlin, Eric (2006). "Corvid response to human settlements and campgrounds: Causes, consequences, and challenges for conservation". Biological Conservation 130 (2): 301–314. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.12.026
  2.  Source: Gill, F.B. (2003) Ornithology (2nd edition). W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. ISBN 0-7167-2415-4 Accessed January 6, 2016.
  3. Source: "The Tower of London". Retrieved 2007-03-03.
  4. Source: Jolle W. Jollesa, Andrew J. King, Andrea Manicab, Alex Thornton, Heterogeneous structure in mixed-species corvid flocks in flight, Elsevier, Animal Behavior, Volume 85, Issue 4, April 2013, pages 743-750.
  5. Sources:

Lee, T. M.; Soh, M. C. K.; Sodhi, N.; Koh, L. P.; Lim, S. L. H. (2005). "Effects of habitat disturbance on mixed species bird flocks in a tropical sub-montane rainforest". Biological Conservation 122 (2): 193–204. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2004.07.005

BirdLife International (2004). Aphelocoma coerulescens. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.

Breininger, D. R.; Toland, B.; Oddy, D. M.; Legare, M. L. (2006). "Landcover characterizations and Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) population dynamics" (PDF). Biological Conservation 128 (2): 169–181. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.09.026

Source: "Attenborough - Crows in the City." 12 February 2007. Retrieved January 6, 2016.