American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
The American crow is around 17 inches in length. It is glossy black with a squared-off to slightly rounded tail; a stout, pointed black bill with a slight hook at the end; and strong black legs and toes. It has stiff bristles over its nostrils. Males and females look alike. The American crow is almost identical in looks to the fish crow. In fact, the only way to easily tell them apart without a close examination or DNA testing may be by their calls. The American crow has a loud cawing call.
The American crow is found from Canada through the continental United States. It is a year-round resident in most of its range. It breeds in the northern most part of its range but may travel a bit further south for the winter.
The American crow is omnivorous and eats just about anything! Its diet includes seeds, grains, fruits, nuts, and berries. It also eats small animals like earthworms, insects, mice, fish, clams, and turtles. It will also eat bird eggs, carrion, and garbage. It usually feeds on the ground, but it will drop shells and nuts on hard surfaces like rocks or the road to break them open. American crows will even follow other birds so they can raid their nests.
The male and the female build a nest of twigs lined with pine needles, animal hair, weeds, grass, and tree bark. The nest is usually built high in a crotch of a tree or on a horizontal branch. American crows usually nest in evergreen trees but will nest in deciduous trees. The female lays 3-8 light green eggs with brown speckles. The female incubates the eggs. The eggs hatch in 18 days. The male brings food to the female while she is incubating the eggs. The chicks fledge in 28-35 days.
American crows are very social and often live in family groups made up of the male and female and their young from the past two years. They all chip in to help build the nest and protect, feed, and raise the young chicks. American crows don't breed until they are at least two years old. Most don't breed until they are at least four years old. Male and female pairs may mate for many years.
The American crow is a highly intelligent bird. It is a quick learner and good problem-solver! American crows live in family groups usually made up of a breeding pair and their young from several breeding seasons. Family groups will join other groups to feed and sleep. A group of crows is sometimes called a murder of crows!
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Chris Parrish