American Crow

American Crow

Details About The American Crow

  • General Information

    American Crows are a very intelligent bird species, known to make and use tools. American Crows have iridescent, glossy black feathers with broad wings and long legs. The tail is 40% of the bird's total length. The black bill is two inches long with a slight hook on the end. Juveniles have blue eyes and pink mouths. Both eyes and mouths darken to maturity. Males and females are generally the same size with only 20% of males slightly larger than females.

    Latin Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
    Class: Aves
    Order: Passeriformes
    Family: Corvidae
    Length: 16-21 inches
    Weight: 11.1-21.9 ounces
    Wingspan: 33-39 inches
    Common Name: Crow

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    The flight of the crow is direct with steady rowing wingbeats. Patient, methodical flapping is rarely broken with gliding. The tail is evenly rounded when spread out in flight, but square when folded in. A crow's wings are broad with fingers at wingtips. Crows fly high in small, loose groups.

    The American Crow's most common call is the familiar, loud/short/rapid caaw-caaw-caaw, with much variety of inflection and pitch. Juvenile calls are higher and coarser, like cahrrr. Crows can mimic other birds' calls.

    This species is common and widespread throughout the U.S. They can be found in open habitats, beaches, farmland, suburbs, towns, open woods, treetops, fields and roadside. Crows congregate in small groups or large flocks of thousands, roosting in trees at night.

  • Nesting

    Crows are monogamous. They nest early in the year, between February and June, but generally have incubated by April. Both male and female build a nest of sticks in a large tree -- oak or coniferous. The female lays 3 to 6 eggs, which hatch in 18 days. The female does all incubating and begs for food like a baby; the male brings food. Both male and female, and siblings, feed the young, which fledge in 35 days. The young do not breed for two to four years. Young birds stay and help parents for a few years, so a family may be fifteen birds with young from five different years.

  • Distribution

    Crows are found year-round in the continental U.S., except in the southern Southwest. During the summer they stray north into Canada and during the winter into southern Southwest.

  • Food

    Crows feed on the ground. They are omnivorous with a great variety of animal and vegetable food. Their diet includes earthworms, insects, small animals, mice, frogs, seeds, fruits, young chicks, carrion and garbage. The bill is large but not strong enough to even break through a squirrel’s skin. They are known to use tools to get food. A testament to their problem solving skills, an American Crow will fly high with a walnut or clam and drop it to break it open.

  • Current Resident Birds

    Female American Crow Eli is a native of Forsythe County, North Carolina. Crows are well known for their intelligence and problem solving ability. Brains and beauty - the total package. This black, irredescent beauty moved to Carolina Raptor Center in 2010.

    Another N.C. native, Kanti, the American Crow, his name means "beauty" in Sanskrit. This male American Crow has lived with female Eli in the Family Corvidae Exhibit since his move to Carolina Raptor Center in 2015.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    American Crows are emotional -- you might even say they are drama queens! When they are hungry or feel threatened, they yell....really loudly.

    In Aesop's Fables, the crow embodies stupidity in one tale (starving while waiting for figs to ripen), vanity in another (tries to become king of the birds with borrowed feathers, but was shamed when they fell off), and cunning in yet another (knows that his beak is too short to reach the water in a pitcher, so fills the pitcher with pebbles. The water rises and he can reach it).