- A-Z Animals
Crows are very common birds found in almost every location globally, barring a few. These birds are known for their high intelligence and resourcefulness. They are a part of the Corvus genus, which also includes the raven, rooks, and jackdaw, all close cousins of the crow. This has led to the word “crow” becoming a familiar term for all the species in this genus. The birds reside in various urban and wild habitats throughout the world. While specific characteristics vary among the species depending on their location, all crows share some attributes.
Crows vs. Ravens: Though the two are similar in appearance, there are ways to tell the two birds apart. The raven is much larger with a more curved beak, for starters. Crows travel in large groups, while ravens are primarily spotted in pairs. Ravens are also more heavyset than crows.
Out of the 45 species found in the genus Corvus, over 30 of themare species of crows. Here are some of them.
Size: Length: 13-28 in (34-70 cm)
Weight: 12 to 57 ounces (337 to 1625 grams)
Body and Coloration: Crows, like the ravens and jackdaws, have a sleek build with a small head. Their beaks are conical and long, ending in a slight curve. The legs end in sharp talons, and the tail is shaped like a wedge. Most species have dark eyes, except for Australian species whose eyes are of lighter coloration. Minimal sexual dimorphism is observed.
Their plumage is primarily black, with some species like the house and hooded crow having portions of gray or white around the areas surrounding their neck or torso.
One can find crows all over the world. These include northern Europe, Scandinavia, Iceland, and Greenland; throughout Asia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Himalayas to India and Iran; across northwestern Africa and the Canary Islands; and in North and Central America as far south as Nicaragua.
Crows prefer open areas like agricultural lands, deserts, grasslands, mountain forests, open riverbanks, rocky cliffs, plains, seacoasts, steppes, scrubby woodlands, and tundra that have trees for nesting. They also thrive in suburban neighborhoods where they can build nests in the crevices and rooftops of buildings.
Most crows live for 7-13 years in the wild, with some surviving for 20 years. An American crow survived for 30 years in its wild habitat.
Omnivorous in nature, these birds have a vast palette eating almost anything, including other birds, carrion, earthworms, eggs, frogs, fruits, insects, mice, mollusks, nestlings, nuts, and seeds.
Crows are very smart, known for their problem-solving and communication skills. Some species score well on the avian IQ scale, which measures bird intelligence. They can recognize and remember faces. Some like the New Caledonian crow have been observed using tools to find food, while in Japan, crows can use public water fountains for drinking and bathing purposes. Crows have been noted to use automobiles to crack open walnuts by leaving the nut on the road and recovering the edible parts after being crushed open under a moving car.
Predators of crows include birds of prey like eagles, hawks, and owls. Raccoons and squirrels steal eggs from their nests and attack nestlings too.
Both the sexes attract their respective mates by singing softly at close range during courtship, which includes soft cooing, rattles, growls, bowing movements, and mutual nuzzling. Once two crows pair up, they form a monogamous bond for life. When they lay eggs, a mating pair will build a 1.5-2 feet long nest 15 to 60 feet above the ground with random materials like bark, branches, cloth, hair, mosses, plant fibers, twigs, twine, etc.
An average clutch has 3-9 eggs, and after an incubation period of 18 days, they hatch. The nesting period lasts for 4-6 weeks, after which the juveniles can begin to leave the nest. The parents take care of baby crows for 2 months with the help of their older children. Crows reach sexual maturity around three years for females and five years for males.
Only two species – the Hawaiian crow and the Mariana crow – are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The other species are all considered “Least Concern” or “LC”.
A group of these birds is often referred to as a flock or a murder.
No, they have a very weak sense of smell.
Contrary to popular thought, crows do not sleep in their nests, only using them to incubate eggs. They sleep in secluded places high above the ground, like trees or rooftops.
No, they get agitated by shiny things due to their inconsistent lighting and try to avoid them.
No, they have very poor night vision and tend to roost at sunset.
They do so to protect their nests and to prevent competition while feeding.
Yes, crows can mimic human speech and have been spotted trying to understand new sounds.