Also known as the black crow or carrion crow, the common crow (Corvus Corone) is a highly intelligent and adaptable bird. Crows boast plumage which is completely black, and they are similar in appearance to rooks. But unlike rooks, these birds have black beaks and bare legs. They can be up to 47cm in length with wingspans of up to 104cm. Crows appear to be impressively brave and are generally solitary creatures which can usually be seen alone or in pairs. They occasionally form flocks and despite their bold natures, they are often wary of people.
Crows are year-round residents of the UK which live throughout the country and in diverse habitats. They have adapted brilliantly to the changes that humans have made to the landscape, principally because they are opportunistic, intelligent birds which eat almost anything including dead animals. They will visit gardens to feed on scraps or whatever the householders have provided.
These birds are considered to be rather sinister by many people. They do prey on other birds but represent no threat to people. Research has suggested that crows are as intelligent as chimpanzees. They will use tools to gather food and are believed to be thoughtful animals which pause to assess their situation before acting.
What is the crow’s distribution and population?
Crows live in all areas of the UK except north-western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. They can be found anywhere from city centres to elevated moorland. There are approximately 1 million breeding pairs in the UK, and they remain here for the entire year. Crows are not a species of conservation concern.
What do crows eat?
Crows are opportunistic omnivores which basically means they eat anything and everything. They will feast on scraps and bird food in gardens but will also munch on worms, small mammals and other birds. They are skilled egg thieves and are thought to consume up to 1000 different types of food.
Where do crows nest?
When crows find a mate, the pair often stay together for life. However, males have been known to cheat! These birds build their nests in a surprising variety of locations including cliff edges, pylons and trees. Their nests are constructed by both the male and the female from twigs and are then lined with hair and bark. The female incubates the eggs and both parents feed the chicks. Crows lay up to seven eggs which are incubated for 18-20 days. The chicks fledge after 28-35 days.
Did you know?
Crows have been known to perform a behaviour known as ‘anting’. They rub ants all over their feathers or lie near an ant hill so that the insects will crawl through their feathers. The reason for this behaviour hasn’t been established but it may be a ritual to rid themselves of parasites.