Resident Bird - American Crow
Cascades Raptor Center does not currently have any American Crow resident birds.
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhyncos)
The crow belongs to the corvidae family: large perching birds that
includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies, nutcrackers, and their relatives.
This black bird has a short and blunt-ended tail, broad wings, and a large
head. Plumage is all black, with a metallic, purplish appearance on the body
in bright sunlight. The wings, which can sometimes have a greenish gloss in
bright light, extend beyond the tail when folded. Bill and feet are black;
eyes are dark brown in adults, blue in immature birds; young birds are
pink/red inside their mouth, which later turns to the adult black. There is
no size difference between the sexes. Crows can be distinguished from ravens
by their smaller size, smaller and straighter bill, shorter body, blunter
tail in flight and higher-pitched, more nasal calls. Crows fly with a
smooth, rowing wing motion, or glide with wings slightly raised. Unlike
their larger relatives, the ravens, they never soar.
Size - Length: 17.5" ave. • Wing Span: 39" ave. • Weight: 1 lb. ave.
Status - Federally protected, though
with a hunting season in many states, and with blanket permission to be
taken when depredating or threatening agriculture.
Habitat - This species is found in many
different habitats, including woods, meadows, marshes, fields, riparian
areas, towns and cities. The American Crow has adapted to a great variety of
human-altered land-scapes, ranging from farms, pastures, and woodlots, to
suburbs and urban centers. Although solitary or seen in pairs much of the
time, crows can also be gregarious; during the fall and winter they may
gather in very large roosts near a source of food. During nesting season, a
youngster threatened on the ground or, at any time, a hawk, eagle or owl,
will bring in crows from all points of the compass to defend or 'mob' and
Diet - Crows are opportunists when it
comes to what they eat. They have the ability to adapt to many habitats and
food sources, and their diet consists of whatever is readily available:
insects, fruits, vegetables, farm crops, eggs (and sometimes nestlings),
amphibians, snakes, shellfish, and carrion. If water is nearby, they like to
wash their food before eating. They often cache food in the ground, to be
Call - A hoarse kaaw...kaaw is
the best known call, but this has many variations in tone, inflection, and
pitch. Immature birds tend to give a higher-pitched and longer call. Crows
have many other vocalizations; these range from a rapid, hollow rattle of
greeting, to the sharp call of sentinel birds communicating danger, to the
mimicry of other species' calls.
Nesting - Crows prefer nest sites in
tall deciduous trees, building their branch and twig nests 20 to 60 feet off
the ground. In arid regions they will sometimes nest in loose colonies in
trees along rivers and streams. They have been known to nest on the ground
occasionally and to use other structures where trees are scarce.
Most Common Problems - Except in
agricultural situations, crows can no longer be legally persecuted in the
US, as they were in the past. The most common problems now include the
ingestion of plastic items, tangling in wire, gunshot, being hit by
vehicles, or young who have fallen or been tossed from their high nests.