Wild South Florida — American Crow
 
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American Crow
american crow
American crow, photographed at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Miami-Dade County, in April 2015.
american crow
 

The American crow, Corvus Brachyrhynchos, is at once hated and admired. Hated as a nuisance; admired for its intelligence. The phrase, bird brain, doesn't quite carry the same insult when you think about the crow.

Crows are found in Florida year round, as they are in most of the country. There is a population that migrates northward to Canada to breed, but for the most part this bird tends to stay put throughout the year regardless of where it lives.

They are fairly large birds, with a stocky body and neck and stout bill. They can be be as long as 16 inches, with a wingspan that exceeds three feet. They are entirely black, from bill to toe. The tips of their wings spread like fingers in flight and are rounded.

Crows will eat just about anything. Insects, snails, worms, snakes, seeds and berries are on their menu. As are small birds, roadkill and garbage. They mostly forage on the ground but will scavenge in dumps and along roads.

Their normal habitat is farms, fields and open woods, but they are extremely adaptable and can get along just fine in city parks. They gather in huge numbers to roost in the winter — according to Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, they can be in the hundreds to the millions.

They are loud birds, annoyingly loud, some might say. Their habits have driven some to dynamite their roosts hoping to get rid of them.

They nest high in shrubs and trees, either in a crotch where the trunk splits or at the base where limbs meet the trunk.

 
 
american crow
 

Both sexes build the nest, which is made of sticks, bark, vegetation and mud and lined with softer materials such as grass and feathers. Females lay one or two clutches a season, each between four and six eggs. They require 18 days of incubation handled mostly or even exclusively by the female.

Crows have to be at least two years old and usually four before they are sexually mature. Younger crows will hang with their parents and help raise their hatchling siblings. By four or five weeks, the hatchlings become fledglings.

How smart are American crows? Smart enough to use tools, according to Cornell. Smart enough to work together to find food. Smart enough to collectively defend themselves against threats.

American crows are members of Corvidae, the crow family.

 

Photographs

by David Sedore

 
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Links for American Crow Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology National Audubon Society National Geographic Society
 
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.