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Species Guide
A photo of a American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
American Crow

American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large passerine bird, a member of the family Corvidae. It is a familiar sight across much of North America, easily recognized by its all-black plumage with a sheen of iridescence. The bird's size is notable, with a length of 40–53 cm (16–21 in), and a wingspan of 85–100 cm (33–39 in). Males are generally larger than females, and the species exhibits regional variations in size and bill shape.

Identification Tips

When identifying the American crow, look for its black legs, feet, and bill, which complement its black feathers. The tail comprises about 40% of its total body length. The bird's most common call is a distinctive "CaaW!-CaaW!-CaaW!" which it often makes while bobbing its head. American crows can be distinguished from similar species by their size, call, and behavior. They are smaller than the common raven, lack the pronounced throat feathers of the fish crow when calling, and are less stocky than the carrion crow.


American crows are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including wilderness, farmland, parks, open woodland, and urban areas. They are absent only from tundra environments, where they are replaced by the common raven.


The species ranges from the Pacific to the Atlantic in Canada, through the United States, and into northern Mexico. The American crow has expanded its range with the increase in tree cover across the Great Plains over the past century.


Crows are known for their intelligence and adaptability. They are capable of using and modifying tools, and young crows learn from their parents over an extended period. The species is social and often forms large communal roosts. American crows are also susceptible to the West Nile virus, which has caused significant population declines.

Song & Calls

The American crow's vocalizations are varied, but its most common call is a loud, short "caaw-caaw-caaw." They are also capable of mimicking the sounds of other animals and birds.


American crows are socially monogamous and may form large family groups that stay together for years. They typically do not breed until they are at least two years old, with many not breeding until four to five years of age. Nests are built in trees and are bulky structures made of sticks. The species lays three to six eggs per clutch, which are incubated for around 18 days.

Similar Species

Similar species include the common raven, fish crow, and carrion crow. The American crow can be differentiated by its size, call, and behavior, as well as by the shape of its tail and the absence of throat feather fluffing when calling.

Diet and Feeding

Omnivorous, the American crow's diet includes invertebrates, carrion, human food scraps, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, nestlings, and grains. They are active hunters and will also prey on small animals. In winter and autumn, their diet shifts more towards nuts and acorns.

Conservation status

The American crow is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Despite population declines due to the West Nile virus, the species remains widespread and abundant, with an estimated population of around 31 million. They are considered an agricultural pest in some areas and are subject to hunting and management.

American Crow Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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American Crows on Birda


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California Scrub Jay

Aphelocoma californica
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