Living Bird Magazine
Fish CrowCorvus ossifragus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Corvidae
Not everyone realizes it, but there are two kinds of crows across much of the eastern United States. Looking almost identical to the ubiquitous American Crow, Fish Crows are tough to identify until you learn their nasal calls. Look for them around bodies of water, usually in flocks and sometimes with American Crows. They are supreme generalists, eating just about anything they can find. Fish Crows have expanded their range inland and northward along major river systems in recent decades.More ID Info
Find This Bird
To find Fish Crows, you’ll want to listen out for them. Chances are that many of the crows around coastlines, lakes, and waterways within this species’ range are Fish Crows. It will be very hard to tell them apart from American Crows by sight, but listen for the short, nasal, often doubled cah notes to give them away.
- Cuervo Pescador (Spanish)
- Corneille de rivage (French)
- Cool Facts
- When Fish Crows find a good source of food, they may cache the surplus for later. These hiding places can be in grass, in clumps of Spanish moss, or in crevices in tree bark. Nesting adults may use these caches when feeding their young.
- Fish Crows are inveterate nest-robbers, raiding the nests of many kinds of waterbirds and songbirds, as well as finding and digging up the eggs of turtles. They also harass and steal food from crows, gulls, ibis, and Ospreys.
- Members of a mated pair frequently preen the back of each other's head.
- One nesting pair of Fish Crows adopted a fledgling Blue Jay that appeared in their nest. The crows fed the jay for two weeks before it disappeared.
- Fish Crows build a new nest for each breeding attempt. The nests are well-made, and one small area may have existing nests from up to four different years.
- The oldest known Fish Crow was 14 years, 6 months old.