Our Wild Neighbors

American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

A very smart opportunist

Image of an American Crow, mounted on a skull, leaning forward in search of food.

Description of the animal

  • Corvidae.
  • Compared to the Common Raven, the American Crow is smaller and its bill is much thinner.
  • The male is a bit bigger than the female.
  • Its feathers are jet black with purple highlights.
  • Long and powerful black bill, slightly hooked at the tip.
  • Dark brown eyes.
  • Powerful black legs and claws.
  • Fan-shaped tail.

Habitat and needs

  • Omnivorous. The American Crow eats fruit, seeds, and insects. When near a body of water, it hunts crustaceans, molluscs, and other invertebrates. It can eat the contents of city garbage bins and feed off the carcasses of dead animals found along roads. It also finds food in open spaces such as garbage dumps, grassy areas, and vacant lands.
  • Finds refuge and nests in large trees found in cemeteries, parks, and old residential neighbourhoods. Its nest is often reused by other bird species or mammals such as squirrels, mice, or raccoons.
  • Like birds of prey, it regurgitates non-digestible remains such as fur or bones in the form of pellets.
  • Opens dried fruit with its bill or drops it on a hard surface to crack it open. If these tactics are unsuccessful, it may resort to using objects as tools.
  • Collaborates with fellow birds to harass and hunt predators or to find new food sources.
  • Loves to lie on anthills. The ants penetrate its feathers, clean the Crow, removing any residue that may be present.
  • Forms a lifelong couple. 12-month old teenage Crows help the couple raise its chicks.
  • During the cold season, the couple congregates with other families to form communal roosts. These roosts can be home to more than 500 000 Crows.
  • Mimics the call of several other bird species and reproduces certain words.

Relationship

  • The American Crow is one of the most persecuted birds. For economic reasons, thousands of Crows have been shot, poisoned, and even dynamited. In spite of this, Crow populations continue to exist and even thrive.
  • Since the Crow is smart, it is sometimes trained to play somewhat macabre roles in movies.
  • It destroys crops, making it undesirable to both farmers and hunters. In the spring, it eats young shoots and in the fall it eats corn right off the cobs.

Living with them

  • If you don’t want Crows around, keep garbage bins tightly closed.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen