Kingdoms /Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Passeriformes / Corvidae / Corvus  / Species
Corvus brachyrhynchos - American Crow (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Crow
  • Common crow
  • Carrion Crow
  • Western crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos hesperis
  • Florida crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos pascuus
  • Eastern crow
  • Southern crow
  • Corn-thief

Names for newly-hatched


Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B170, B171, B172, B193, B246

Other References


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General Appearance

Large black bird; largest crow in the USA.(B170)

Similar Species

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group


Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

  • 17.5 inches / 45 cm (B170)
  • 19.75 inches (B172)
  • 17-21 inches (B246)
  • Wingspan 33-40 inches (B246)
Adult weight General --
Male Winter weight: 15.5 ounces to 1 pound 6.5 ounces. (B246)
Female Winter weight: 14.75 ounces to 1 pound 5.5 ounces (B246).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Black. Long and heavy, but smaller than in ravens (B170)
Variations (If present)
  • Corvus brachyrhynchos hesperis: bill smaller, more slender.
  • Corvus brachyrhynchos pascuus: bill relatively larger.
  • Corvus brachyrhynchos paulus: bill smaller.


Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown (B170, B171, B246)
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Inside of mouth red initially (B171).
Eyes (Iris)

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Adult Male Black (B170, B171).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile --

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Adult Male Overall: Black; slightly iridescent blue and purple.
  • Neck feathers base grey.
  • Body: black, glossed metallic violet; mantle, back, rump, tips not iridescent.
  • Wings: glossed green-blue; inner wing coverts: tips not iridescent.
  • Tail fan-shaped - slightly rounded (as other crows - not wedge-shaped as in ravens).

(B170, B171,B246)

Variations (If present)
  • Albinos relatively frequent (B246).
Juvenile Duller (B172)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Fleshy pinkish, with sparse tufts dark grey-brow down on head and upperparts. (B171).

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Eggs laid February to June (B246).
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

  • Trees (conifer and broad-leaf), shrubs, bushes, cross-arm of telephone poles. Very rarely on ground.
  • May be 75ft above ground (usually 18-60 ft but up to 100ft high and sometimes as low as 6-10ft high in small tree or bush (B246)).
  • Coarse but well made.
  • Cup-shaped.
  • Sticks, twigs, grass, treebark.
  • May be thickly lined with soft inner bark, fine roots, straw, moss, seaweed, leaves, twine, rags, wool or hair.
  • Usually solitary. Sometimes in small colonies.

(B171, B172, B193, B246).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-5 (B171); 4-6 (B193); 3-7 (B246).
Range 3-6 (B171); 4-8 (B172); 3-9 (B193); 3-7 (B246).
Egg Description
  • Variable: blue-green to olive-green (olive, olive green, greenish-buff, blue-green, pale green, greenish white).
  • Mottled/blotched/speckled and/or streaked with brown/grey (olive-grey and olive-brown); grey or lilac underlying markings.
  • Rarely pinkish-buff ground colour with reddish markings.
  • Length: 41mm, 1.6 inches (B193)

(B171, B172, B193, B246)

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18 days (B171, B193, B246).

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35 days (B171); 28-35 days (B193, B246).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Mainly feed from the ground, also in trees.
  • Scavenges garbage tips and around slaughterhouses.
  • Locally forages on shore, dropping shellfish onto rocks to open them.

(B171, B193, B246).

Newly-hatched Fed by parents (B193).

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Both parents; may be assisted by yearlings (B171, B193).
Incubation Female, possibly also male; female is fed during incubation (B171, B193).
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents and sometimes also by yearling helpers. (B193).
Juveniles --

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Social Behaviour

  • In winter may be seen in small or larger groups.
  • Large communal roosts in winter where abundant: may be hundreds of thousands of birds.
  • In summer in pairs - lone males while female sitting.
  • Accidentally parasitised by cowbird on occasion (B246).

(B171, B246)

  • Mob bird of prey and other predators.
  • Buteo lineatus - Red-shouldered hawk mobbed only if near nest or fledged young.
  • Crows and Buteo lineatus - Red-shouldered hawk may mob owls together.

(B171, B246)

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Sexual Behaviour

Probably monogamous (B193).

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

In very cold weather may leave perches to roost on ground (B171).
Circadian Flight to roost well before sunset (B171).

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Natural Diet


Omnivorous. Vegetable and (about 28%) animal food:
  • Cultivated grain (maize in particular, also wheat, sorghum), wild seeds, fruit and nuts (wild and cultivated).
  • Invertebrates: insects (particularly beetles, beetle larvae, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets) also spiders, millipedes, small crustaceans, snails, earthworms, clams, scallops, mussels, sea urchins.
  • Small reptiles, frogs, toads, small mammals, eggs (of e.g. song birds, game birds), young bird.
  • Carrion.
  • Scavenged human food scraps.

(B171, B193, B246)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • Widespread in North America:
  • Inland British Columbia, south-western Mackenzie, northern Saskatchewan, northern Manitoba, northern Ontario, central Quebec, southern Newfoundland, central Quebec, southern Newfoundland, southward to Baja California, central Arizona, north-central New Mexico, Colorado, central Texas, Gulf of Mexico, southern Florida.
  • Not common in Great Basin area.


  • Northern populations partially migratory; winter further south

(B89, B170, B193, B246)

Occasional and Accidental --
Introduced --

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  • Wide variety of habitats.
  • Open country such as farmland, woodland edges, open woodlands, parks, orchards, tidal flats.
  • In arid habitats, riparian woodlands.

(B170, B171, B193).

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Intraspecific variation

  • Corvus brachyrhynchos hesperis: western North America (east-central British Columbia and Montana south to southern California, Arizona, western Texas)
  • Corvus brachyrhynchos pascuus: Florida peninsula.
  • Corvus brachyrhynchos paulus: southern USA

(B171, B172)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
Generally common throughout range (B170).
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations


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