American Crows are highly adaptable and will live in any open place that offers a few trees to perch in and a reliable source of food. Regularly uses both natural and human created habitats, including farmland, pasture, landfills, city parks, golf courses, cemeteries, yards, vacant lots, highway turnarounds, feedlots, and the shores of rivers, streams, marshes, and beaches. Crows tend to avoid unbroken expanses of forest, but do show up at forest campgrounds and travel into forests along roads and rivers. Avoids deserts.Back to top
American Crows eat a vast array of foods, including grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and many kinds of small animals such as earthworms and mice. They eat many insects, including some crop pests, and also eat aquatic animals such as fish, young turtles, crayfish, mussels, and clams. A frequent nest predator, the American Crow eats the eggs and nestlings of many species including sparrows, robins, jays, terns, loons, and eiders. Also eats carrion and garbage.Back to top
Crows typically hide their nests in a crotch near the trunk of a tree or on a horizontal branch, generally towards the top third or quarter of the tree. They prefer to nest in evergreens, but will nest in deciduous trees when evergreens are less available.
Both members of a breeding pair help build the nest. Young birds from the previous year sometimes help as well. The nest is made largely of medium-sized twigs with an inner cup lined with pine needles, weeds, soft bark, or animal hair. Nest size is quite variable, typically 6-19 inches across, with an inner cup about 6-14 inches across and 4-15 inches deep.
|Clutch Size:||3-9 eggs|
|Number of Broods:||1-2 broods|
|Egg Length:||1.4-1.9 in (3.6-4.7 cm)|
|Egg Width:||1.0-1.2 in (2.6-3.1 cm)|
|Incubation Period:||16-18 days|
|Nestling Period:||20-40 days|
|Egg Description:||Pale bluish-green to olive green with blotches of brown and gray toward the large end.|
|Condition at Hatching:||Naked except for sparse tufts of grayish down, eyes closed, clumsy.|
American Crows are highly social birds, more often seen in groups than alone. In addition to roosting and foraging in numbers, crows often stay together in year-round family groups that consist of the breeding pair and offspring from the past two years. The whole family cooperates to raise young. Winter roosts of American Crows sometimes number in the hundreds of thousands. Often admired for their intelligence, American Crows can work together, devise solutions to problems, and recognize unusual sources of food. Some people regard this resourcefulness and sociality as an annoyance when it leads to large flocks around dumpsters, landfills, and roosting sites; others are fascinated by it. American Crows work together to harass or drive off predators, a behavior known as mobbing.Back to top
American Crows are numerous, although their numbers declined slightly between 1966 and 2019, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 28 million and rates them 6 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, indicating a species of low conservation concern. The American Crow is extremely susceptible to West Nile virus, which was introduced into North America in 1999. Virtually all crows that contract West Nile die within one week, and few seem able to survive. No other North American bird died at the same rate from the disease, and the loss of crows in some areas was severe.Back to top
Dunne, P. (2006). Pete Dunne's essential field guide companion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, USA.
Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye (1988). The Birder's Handbook. A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds, Including All Species That Regularly Breed North of Mexico. Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, NY, USA.
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Verbeek, N. A. and C. Caffrey. (2002). American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.