American Crows are usually in small groups and can also be seen in large flocks (groups are called a murder of crows). They mostly forage on the ground for their food, which can include insects, seeds and carrion, along with eggs and the nestlings of other birds.
They are in the Passeriformes Order, or passerines, which includes perching birds and songbirds. Birds in this order have a toe structure that is well-adapted to perching by being 3 toes facing forward and 1 toe facing backwards on each foot.
How to Recognize an American Crow
Generally crows are heard first with their loud “caws” and then seen. American Crows are large, black birds, with a length of 17.5 inches and a wingspan of 39 inches.
They are in the Corvid family, which also include magpies, ravens, and jays. Corvids have a reputation for being bold, clever, and adaptable.
American Crows are easily confused with the Common Raven, but there are some relatively easy ways to tell them apart:
- First, American Crows tend to gather in flocks of 20-30 birds, while the Common Ravens gather in groups of 2-3.
- When you see these birds flying, American Crows flap a lot and Ravens coast more often.
- The tail of the American Crow is straight across while the Raven’s tail comes to a point in a diamond shape.
- If you are up close enough to see them clearly, Ravens have a shaggy throat while American Crows have a sleek throat.
Where to find in Willow Spring Open Space
American Crows are generally heard first by their caws and then seen in various places: flying overhead, perching in flocks in trees for the night, and on the ground rooting around for insects.
Did You Know?
American Crows have been found to be very smart and can learn to recognize individual humans. Also, when there is a predator around their chicks, they will form a group to mob the predator and drive it away.
- Wild About Rocky Mountain Birds: A Youth’s Guide to the Rocky Mountain States, by Adele Porter, 2012
- Peterson First Guide to Birds of North America, by Roger Tory Peterson, 1986
- The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America: Second Edition, by David Allen Sibley, 2016
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America: Seventh Edition, by Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer, 2017
- Great Courses, The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America, Course 7782, James Currie
- Finding Rocky Mountain National Park’s Birds with Richard H. Hahn, by Richard H. Hahn and Sarah Hahn Campbell, 2016