SCIENTIFIC NAME: Corvus brachyrhynchos
OTHER NAMES: Common crow
DESCRIPTION: At 17 to 21 inches, Corvus brachyrhynchos is the largest of the three subspecies of crow found in
DISTRIBUTION: Corvus brachyrhynchos breeds from central
HABITAT: Crows utilize virtually any habitat including forests, wood lots, open areas, farmlands and suburbs. They can be found near the shore as well as in the mountains. They prefer open areas with nearby woodlots and forest edges for breeding, roosting, and foraging. Agricultural and grassland areas are ideal habitat for foraging. Crows thrive in suburban neighborhoods and urban parks.
BEHAVIOR & FEEDING HABITS: Hunting in "mobs," crows are omnivores and will feed on carrion anywhere they find it. Crows defend large all-purpose territories. Robbing nests of eggs and small birds is not uncommon. Small grains such as corn and wheat are a favorite food source. Crows are known to hide food in short-term caches and will hide meat, nuts, and seeds in tree crevices or on the ground until they are ready to eat. They use the beak to hammer open nuts or may carry them high in the air and drop them on hard surfaces to break open the hard shells. Large numbers of crows, from tens to hundreds of thousands, will assemble in the late afternoon in areas of large trees, and then move to a final roosting site for the night. In addition to family and winter roost groups, crows form what is known as "floater" groups. These flock participants probably lack mates. Some of these individuals spend time in the natal territories as helpers. American crows engage in a behavior called anting. A crow will position itself over an anthill and allow ants to scramble among its feathers, or it may pick up single ants or small groups and rub them into its feathers.
BREEDING: Crows are cooperative breeders, which means both the male and female as well as younger siblings will help raise and protect their young. Maturity in male crows is not reached until their second year. Breeding may begin as early as February and last through June. Nests are built by the male and female, usually high in a large conifer or hardwood tree. Females lay four to five light green eggs with brown markings. The female incubates the eggs which hatch in 18 days. While nesting, the female will beg for food like a baby bird, and her mate will bring it to her. Baby crows are helpless at birth and require parental care. They are nurtured by both parents as well as helpers who are their older siblings. The young fledge (leave the nest) when they are approximately 35 days old. Adult crows have been observed feeding young even after they have left the nest and are capable of foraging for themselves.
Yaremych SA, West Nile Virus and high death rate in American Crows. www.cdc.gov
Parr, C. 2005. "Corvus brachyrhynchos" (On-line), Animal diversity Web. At animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu
Bruun, Beretel. 1974. The Dell Encyclopedia of Birds. Delacorte Press. Dell Publishing Co.,
Wernert, Susan J., Reader's Digest North American Wildlife. Reader"s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N. Y. 1982. 125pp.
Author: Stuart Goldsby, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries