Living Bird Magazine
Northwestern CrowCorvus caurinus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Corvidae
Northwestern Crows are slightly smaller and deeper-voiced than the widespread American Crow. They often forage in coastal habitats of the Pacific Northwest, including tidal flats, in seabird colonies, and along rivers and estuaries (where they may wade into shallow water). Like other crows, they’re also intelligent and quick to capitalize on other food sources, including picnic tables, trash cans, and landfills. Where Northwestern and American Crows come into contact, many birders record the crows they see as “unidentified”—and it’s possible that these two extremely similar species may hybridize.More ID Info
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Northwestern Crows are usually the only crow species present on the immediate shorelines of British Columbia and bordering areas of Washington state. Farther south around Puget Sound, where American Crows also occur, identification becomes trickier (young American Crows can sound like Northwestern Crows). To see a “definite” Northwestern Crow, visit areas such as Bellingham Bay northward to Canada, or the San Juan Islands.
- Cuervo de Alaska (Spanish)
- Corneille d'Alaska (French)
- Cool Facts
- Northwestern Crows live in a challenging, ever-changing environment. Like the shorebirds that feed on mudflats, they must contend with tides that make foraging sites unavailable for part of the day. Researchers recently discovered not only that they cache (store) food such as large clams for later, but that 99% of the time, the crows were able to remember where they put individual clams.
- The Northwestern Crow may be only a subspecies of the American Crow. The two are extremely similar, differing just in size and voice. In the Puget Sound area a number of intermediate crows can be found, and it is difficult to determine just which species is most common there.
- The oldest recorded Northwestern Crow was at least 16 years, 8 months old when it was seen in British Columbia and identified by its band in 1996. It had been banded in the same province in 1979.