American crow on a branch

American Crows

American Crows are easily recognized by being big and black and having a distinct caw. They are year-round residents of the Willow Spring Open Space and the neighborhoods around it.

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. 

large number of crows flying
Murder of crows in flight

Similar Birds

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.

References and Further Reading

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