American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)


Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family:    Corvidae
Size:    Height: 17 to 21 inches (43 to 53 cm)
Weight: 1 to 2.75 pounds (0.45 to 1.2 kg)
Diet: Mice, insects, grasshoppers, carrion, nuts, fruit, grain, eggs and small birds
Distribution: Canada and the United States
Young:  1 to 6 chicks, once a year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 13 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity



·        Henry Ward Beecher once said, “If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”

·        Some Native American tribes consider the crow a sacred creature. 

·        Jays, magpies and ravens belong to the crow family.

·        The American crow has at least 23 different calls. 



American crows are large black birds that are often confused with ravens. However, crows are smaller than ravens, which may be as large as 27 inches (68 cm). Crows have fan-shaped tail feathers, while those of ravens are wedged shaped. Crows also have rounded, fan-shaped throat feathers, whereas ravens’ appear spiky when fluffed up. Crows make a “caw-caw” sound, while ravens have a deeper, throaty sounding call that sounds like “honk-honk.” American crows also have black legs and feet and a thick, black bill.



Similar to ravens in behaviour, crows have a great range and are more likely than ravens to be found in built-up areas such as cities and towns, although crows can be found in forests, farmland and pastures as well. Because they are competitors, ravens and crows do not generally inhabit the same areas. Crows prefer areas with a mixture of cover and open spaces. 


Feeding Habits

Crows eat an enormous amount of mice, insects and grasshoppers that would otherwise cause a lot of damage to plants and crops. They eat a wide variety of food, including nuts, grain, fruit, eggs, small birds and even carrion.



Crows are monogamous and once paired, remain mated for life. The breeding season begins in February and extends into June. Cup-shaped nests are made of twigs, mud and bark, and lined with grass, feathers and moss. The female lays one to six eggs that are blue-green or grey-green in colour, with grey and brown specks. The female and male take turns sitting on the eggs for approximately 18 days until their chicks hatch. For four to five weeks, both parents feed the babies, who remain in the nest. Even after they are able to leave the nest, the parents will continue to feed the babies for another month or two. Because crows generally do not mate until the age of five, the offspring from earlier seasons remain nearby and they help to feed the youngsters as well. 



Crows are great mimics; domesticated crows have been known to imitate human speech in much the same way parrots do. In the wild, people generally dislike crows because of their large size and black colour, as well as their loud, repetitive call. Actually, crows are considered one of the most intelligent birds in the world, with huge brains in comparison to their body size. They are very social birds and call out to other crows when they find food. Crows can often be seen feeding peacefully alongside squirrels and smaller birds. They sometimes bob up and down when nervous or wary, and steadily flap their wings when flying, rather than soar.  



Crows are not considered a conservation concern, as their numbers are abundant throughout their range. 



Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1999)