Wednesday, August 21, 2013

American Crows

Looking for murder?

During non breeding periods, American, or Common, Crows congregate in large flocks.  A flock of crows is called a murder.  Hundreds, even thousands of Crows may be part of a murder.  In the morning, the birds leave their murder, flying as far as fifty miles to feed.  In the evening, they return to the communal roost amidst raucous cawing. 

When a bird of prey is flying in the area, a bunch of Crows take flight to surround the predator.  The gang of Crows shriek, chase and lounge at the predator bird.  You might say, they escort the unwanted guest out of town.

Crows are all black, their feathers, their beaks, their legs and feet.  The sexes look similar.  Crows are roughly the same size as a gull, that is, 18-20 inches in length. 

Crows are often confused with the larger Raven (approximately 24 inches long).  In flight, the Raven has a fan shaped tail while the Crow's tail is more straight and narrow.  The Raven's beak is thicker than the Crow's beak.

The American Crow is found throughout the US and in most of Canada.

During the breeding season, Crows break off into smaller groups.  Soon the business of courtship and mating commences.  Crows do not appear to make the big production out of courtship that some birds do.  However, in spring, you may see Crows bobbing, cooing and spreading their feathers alluringly.  The voice of the Crow is softer at this time.  Rather than the harsh sounding CAW usually uttered, the Crow emits a Rattle-call.  This is apparently the Crow's version of a love song.

Nests are typically built in trees, 20-60 feet above the ground.  The nests are about 24 inches in diameter, with an inner diameter of 7 inches- where 4-5 eggs are laid.  Nesting materials include, bark strands, sticks, twigs, grass, moss, string and cloth.  A pair of Crows may have one or two broods per year. 

After the youngsters are fledged, they join the murder.

Hear the voice of a Crow and see some pictures here. 



  1. We get them here too, a lot of them through the year.

    Ravens of course are larger, but so easy to confuse with a crow, and one tends to see them more outside the urban centers.

  2. I love crows! We had a couple that used to hang around our place--Arnold and Hoppy. They had a thing for fast food.

  3. A murder? I had never heard of that one. But it makes a lot of sense. Oh yes!