The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large passerine bird species of the family Corvidae. It is a common bird found throughout much of North America. American crows are the new world counterpart to the Carrion Crow and the Hooded Crow. Although the American Crow and the Hooded Crow are very similar in size, structure and behavior, their calls are different. The American crow nevertheless occupies the same role the Hooded Crow does in Eurasia.
From beak to tail, an American crows measures 40–50 cm (16–20 in), almost half of which is tail. Mass varies from about 300 to 600 g (10 to 20 oz). Males tend to be larger than females. The most usual call is CaaW!-CaaW!-CaaW!.
The American crow is all black, with iridescent feathers. It looks much like other all-black corvids. They can be distinguished from the Common Raven (C. corax) because American Crows are smaller and from the Fish Crow (C. ossifragus) because American Crows do not hunch and fluff their throat feathers when they call.
American Crows are common, widespread, and susceptible to the West Nile virus, making them useful as a bioindicator to track the virus’s spread. Direct transmission of the virus from American Crows to humans is unheard of and unlikely. [Wikipedia]
American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything – typically earthworms, insects and other small animals, seeds, and fruit but also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides. [All About Birds]
American Crow Facts [All About Birds]
- Despite its tendency to eat roadkill, the American Crow is not specialized to be a scavenger, and carrion is only a very small part of its diet. Though their bills are large, crows can’t break through the skin of even a gray squirrel. They must wait for something else to open a carcass or for the carcass to decompose and become tender enough to eat.
- Crows are crafty foragers that sometimes follow adult birds to find where their nests are hidden. They sometimes steal food from other animals. A group of crows was seen distracting a river otter to steal its fish, and another group followed Common Mergansers to catch minnows the ducks were chasing into the shallows. They also sometimes follow songbirds as they arrive from a long migration flight and capture the exhausted birds. Crows also catch fish, eat from outdoor dog dishes, and take fruit from trees.
- Crows sometimes make and use tools. Examples include a captive crow using a cup to carry water over to a bowl of dry mash; shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food; and breaking off pieces of pine cone to drop on tree climbers near a nest.
- The oldest recorded wild American Crow was at least 16 years 4 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in New York. A captive crow in New York lived to be 59 years old.