American Crow

American Crow

The American Crow is so familiar to people that even those who know nothing about birds are aware of crows and their smarts. These shrewd birds have amazing intelligence and an ability to learn and make decisions.  Crows are also known to make and use tools for problem solving.  Recent studies in Seattle found that crows can recognizes faces associated with stressful situations for up to 5 years and can actually spread the word among their flock.  This speaks to incredible social learning abilities.

Crows will eat practically anything and like all corvids they hide food to eat later.  Their diet includes small animals, birds, eggs, insects, seeds, nuts, fruit, and all kinds of human food and waste as well as roadkill.

Want to befriend them? Offer crows in your yard peanuts or tree nuts.  Crows will also eat dried whole corn kernels and cracked corn and will do gymnastic tricks to get to the suet.

How can you tell a crow from a raven?

Both wear a shiny black coat, have black bills and black eyes. Both perform impressive display flights, with soaring, diving, and tumbling.  But ravens are 25% larger than crows and vocalize with a deep croak rather than a caw.  In flight, a crow’s tail is fan-shaped while a raven’s is wedge-shaped.  Perhaps most helpful is that if you see a large black bird in urban areas, it’s a crow!  Crows are common in populated urban places while ravens are not. Additionally, crows are highly sociable and will hang out in numbers, whereas look for ravens in pairs.  Lastly, crows tend to flap to fly while ravens tend to soar more than they flap.

In the fall and winter 15,000 crows gather in downtown Portland to roost overnight. Locals and visitors are treated to a remarkable sight as crows converge on downtown from all directions in the late afternoon.

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology the oldest recorded wild American Crow was at least 16 years 4 months old and that a captive crow lived to be 59 years old! (