American Crow

American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

About This Animal

SIZE: Wingspan is 2.8 – 3.3 ft.

RANGE: Fairly common and conspicuous throughout most of the lower 48 states outside the southwestern deserts

HABITAT: They thrive around people and you’ll find them in open woodlands, forests, agricultural fields, lawns, parking lots, athletic fields, roadsides and city garbage dumps

DIET: Earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit but also garbage, carrion, and small animals

ON EXHIBIT: Makes appearances in Extraordinary Experience bird program in River Journey Delta exhibit.

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. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.

They are very social birds, sometimes forming flocks in the millions. Inquisitive and sometimes mischievous, crows are good learners and problem-solvers, often raiding garbage cans and picking over discarded food containers. Crows have been observed playing tricks on each other. One study found that a crow would pretend to look for food in empty containers and while another followed suit, the first crow would sneak away to grab food from a full container. They’re also aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons.

The American Crow is nearly identical to both Northwestern and Fish crows. To distinguish Fish Crows, listen for the Fish Crow's more nasal calls. Northwestern Crows occur only along the Pacific Northwest coast; they are slightly smaller and best separated by habitat. Common Ravens are larger, longer winged, and heavier beaked than crows. Ravens' tails are tapered at the end, giving them a diamond or wedge shape compared to a crow's shorter, squarer tail.