Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Walter Siegmund/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

American Crow

American Crow
Corvus brachyrhynchos
Perching Birds | Family: Crows, Magpies, Jays, Corvidae

An estimated 17% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Intelligent, wary, virtually omnivorous, and with a high reproductive capacity, the American Crow is undoubtedly much more numerous than it was before the arrival of settlers. An opportunist in its feeding, the American Crow consumes a great variety of plant and animal food: seeds, garbage, insects, mice. Its nest-plundering is decried, but in orchards and fields it destroys many injurious insects such as grasshoppers and cutworms. However, the labeling of birds as either "harmful" or "useful" is misleading and antiquated. Crows do destroy many eggs and nestlings of woodland and meadow birds, but they also weed out the weak and feeble, and they alert the animals in a neighborhood when danger approaches.

Description

17-21" (43-53 cm). Stocky black bird with stout bill and fan-shaped tail. Smaller Northwestern Crow has hoarser voice; larger Common Raven has wedge-shaped tail.

Voice

Familiar caw-caw or caa-caa.

Nesting

4-6 dull green eggs, spotted with dark brown, in a large mass of twigs and sticks lined with feathers, grass, and rootlets, and placed in a tree.

Habitat

Deciduous growth along rivers and streams; orchards and city parks. Also mixed and coniferous woods, but avoids closed coniferous forests and desert expanses.

Range/Migration

Breeds from British Columbia, central interior Canada, and Newfoundland south to southern California, Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters north to southern Canada.