Page 134 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
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rican or Common Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Fish Crow

(C. ossifragus)


These are large, stocky songbirds
(yes, crows are songbirds, although they sound very unmusical to us!) with
shiny black feathers and purple highlights. Juveniles are more brownish than
adults. Fish Crows range from 36 to 41 centimeters in length; American crows
are slightly larger. Fish Crows have shorter legs than American Crows. Sexes
are similar. American Crow calls are a distinctive Caw, caw, while Fish Crows
utter a sharp, nasally Nyuh uh. Crows mate for life. Both partners help build
the nest, sometimes with assistance from their older children. The female lays
three to nine eggs which hatch in 16-18 days. The entire family helps incubate
the eggs and raise the chicks.

Crows are very social and amazingly Distribution and Habitat
intelligent. They have a “language” of
over 250 different calls. They are able American Crows live in all five
to recognize and remember human physiographic provinces, while
faces and can pick them out of a Fish Crows are found mainly in
crowd. They can use simple tools such the Coastal Plain and Piedmont
as sticks or nut shells to get food. provinces. The two kinds are often
seen together. Crows can use both
natural and human-created habitats
including farmland, landfills, parks,
golf courses, cemeteries, yards and
the shores of rivers, streams and
wetlands. In winter, crows gather at
night into huge communal roosts of
up to 2 million birds or more!

Role in Food Web

Crows eat a wide variety of foods
including worms, insects, seeds, fruits, roadkill, small mammals, fish, other
birds’ chicks and eggs and human scraps. Predators include birds of prey,
snakes, Raccoons, cats and sometimes humans.

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