One of the hundred and twenty species of corvidae, this is an extremely intelligent bird often observed using tools. Predominantly resident year-round, small populations in the far north migrate south to over winter in areas already occupied by other resident carrion crows.
The adult carrion crow has gloss black upperparts with a green hue to the head and upperwings, morphing into a purplish hue across the neck, back and rump. These hues maybe difficult to observe and can appear as very subtle. The underparts of the bird are a dull black with tight feathering across the chest, belly and vent. The head is wide and flat across the crown and the black bill is medium length, thick and arched. The inside of the mouth is grey and the nostrils are covered in short bristle like feathers. The eyes are dark brown and legs dark grey or black. The tail and wing tips are square in shape. Males and females are similar. Juvenile birds lack gloss to the feathers which appear sootier in colour to the adult, with grey eyes and a pink colouration on the edges and inside of the bill.
Carrion Crow perched
The call is typically crow like being loud and harsh similar to, ‘caw – caw – caw’ or ‘craah – craah – craah’, often repeated.
Carrion Crow call
Maxence Fouillade, XC642131. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/642131.
Carrion Crow in flight
The carrion crow forages for food mainly on the ground, taking worms, insects, seeds and berries and even small mammals and amphibians. It will also feed on others birds’ eggs and young as well as scavenging for scraps and carrion.
Carrion Crow with food
The carrion crow is native to central and western Europe, including the United Kingdom. Its range also extends across central and eastern Asia from Kazakhstan to China and Japan, south into Thailand and north as far as the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s northeast corner. There are two subspecies, with Corvus corone corone native to Europe and Corvus corone orientalis confined to Asia.
Carrion Crow profile
Whilst on the ground the carrion crow is a proud, confident looking bird with an upright posture and determined, strutting, gait. In flight it can often be observed chasing off predators from its feeding grounds or nest areas during the breeding season and will even attack birds of prey. A relative loner it is usually spotted on its own or as a pair, although it will occasionally form small flocks with others of the same species. It has a wide variety of natural habitats including farmland, wetlands, moorland, woodland and open countryside of all description provided there are sufficient trees for roosting and nesting. Of all their habitats they are most commonly found in urban and suburban areas with parks and gardens, particularly within Europe.
Carrion Crow calling
Carrion crows are monogamous, often pairing for life. During the breeding season a large nest is constructed by the male and female from sticks and twigs high up in a tree or occasionally on a cliff top. Dependent upon geographical location one brood of 4 – 6 brown speckled blue eggs is produced annually between March and June and incubated by the female for up to twenty days. Fledging occurs after one month.
Carrion Crow with young
The average life expectancy of a carrion crow is between five to ten years. They have few predators and some ringed crows have been recorded as reaching twenty years of age.
45cm to 47cm
93cm to 104cm
370g to 650g
The Australian raven, Corvus coronoides, belongs to the genus Corvus which includes around 45 widely distributed species from the family Corvidae (aka. the Corvids). Like most of its relatives, the Australian Raven has largely black plumage, though some of its upper parts have a glossy purple, blue and green sheen. Strong in shape and form with a powerful heavy-set beak, the Australian raven is a highly adaptable species that lives in both natural and urban environments.
A medium-sized member of the crow family that breeds at high altitudes. It is also referred to as the Yellow-billed Chough.
A large, highly adaptable black and white member of the crow family, found across the majority of the sub-Saharan Africa.
The Rook is a gregarious bird of farmland across the United Kingdom. These intelligent birds are admired for their intelligence, maligned for their habit of eating grain, and revered for the good and bad omens they are thought to signify.
A resident UK breeder, the common raven is the largest member of the crow family and one of the most widespread naturally occurring birds in the world. It is an impressive and highly intelligent bird.
A long-tailed corvid with striking black and white plumage, the Magpie is one of the world's most intelligent birds and the source of many superstitions.
A showy member of the Crow family, the Jay is challenging to spot despite bright colours and a loud call.
One of eight British corvid species, the pale-eyed Jackdaw is the smallest of our crows. These highly intelligent and social birds are common in both town and country, where they often associate with Rooks and other crows.
Once considered the same species as the carrion crow, hooded crows were recognised as a distinct and separate species in 2002. They are widely distributed across northern, eastern and southeastern Europe and the Middle East, and are common in Ireland, north-western Scotland and the Isle of Man.
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