American Crows are smart, large birds that are fully covered in black color. They are known for their hoarse, cawing voices. They are also distinguished for their unique style in flying – a composed, orderly flapping that is unusually broken up with glides.
With a stable population in the American continent, American Crows are commonly found in treetops, fields, and roadsides. They are also seen in different habitats such as open woods, empty beaches, and town centers.
American Crows are generally large. Their huge size is well complemented with their long legs and thick necks. Their overall feature is completed with their remarkably heavy, straight bill.
During flight, their wings are quite broad and rounded. The feathers found at the tip of their wings would look like fingers. Moreover, they also have short tails that are rounded or squared off at the tip.
The entire body of American Crows is covered in black, including the legs and bill. However, during molting, the old feathers can look brownish or scaly. This contrast becomes more apparent as soon as the glossy new feathers start to appear.
American Crows closely resemble both the Northwestern and Fish crows. It’s also worth noting that American Crows exhibit regional differences. Crows in the West are a bit smaller compared to the crows of the East.
Distribution and Habitat
As highly adaptable animals, American Crows would live in any open place that has some trees to perch in and a good source of food. They are usually observed in fields, open woodlands, and forests. They can also be easily see them in farmlands, parking lots, athletic fields, roadsides, towns, feedlots, cemeteries, yards, and garbage dumps of the urban locale.
They do not go through unbroken expanses of forests. However, they appear at forest campgrounds and go into forests along roads and rivers. They also avoid deserts.
These birds feed on almost anything. Typically, their diet consists of earthworms, mice, insects such as crop pets, and other small animals like mussels, crayfish, and clams. Aside from that, they also eat seeds, berries, grains, and fruits.
American Crows are also frequent nest predators. They would eat the eggs and nestlings of many species, including sparrows, robins, jays, loons, and eiders. At worst, they eat carrion and garbage.
American Crows are highly social in nature. Indeed, they would form flocks once in a while. More than roosting and foraging in numbers, they also stay together in family-groups throughout the entire year. These groups consist of the breeding pair and their young from the past 2 years.
Their behavior ranges from being inquisitive to sometimes mischievous. They are also seen as intelligent animals, specifically for being fast learners and problem solvers. This is manifested in different circumstances, but mainly when they’re searching for food.
Apart from that, they are also aggressive animals. They would fiercely chase away large birds such as hawks, owls and herons. Indeed, they would work together to drive off predators, an act commonly known as mobbing.
Both the male and female of a breeding pair help in constructing the nest. Sometimes, young crows that were born from the previous year also help in the nest building. The nest primarily consists of average-sized twigs that contain the inner cup, which is lined with pine needles, weeds, soft bark, or animal hair. The size of the nest is typically 6-19 inches across, with an inner cup diameter of 6-14 inches and a depth of about 4-15 inches.
The nest is usually placed in a hidden crotch close to the trunk of a tree or on a horizontal branch. Their preferred nest location is usually evergreens, although sometimes, they would also nest in deciduous trees especially if there aren’t a lot evergreens found in the breeding range.
American Crows have a stable population. Indeed, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the population of the species has slightly increased between the years 1966 to 2010. The estimated global breeding population of American Crows is 27 million, with 88 percent spending some months of the year in the U.S. and 37 percent in Canada. The species rates 6 out of 20 on the Continental Score and is not on the 2012 Watch List.
The biggest threat in the species’ population is the West Nile Virus, which was responsible for the population decline in some years. Marked as ‘extremely susceptible’ to the said virus, American Crows that contract the virus die within one week, and only a few are able to survive.