American Crow Cool Facts

American Crow Cool Facts
American crows belong to the family Corvidae, which includes jays, ravens, nutcrackers and
magpies.
1. The American crow is one of America’s best-known birds. Males and females are outwardly alike. Their large size (17 to 21 inches [43 to 53 cm] long), completely coal-black plumage, and familiar “caw caw” sound make them easy to identify.

2. They are fairly common in areas near people, and tales of their wit and intelligence have been noted in many stories.

3. Crows are omnivorous, eating almost anything, and they readily adapt food habits to changing seasons and avail-able food supply. They belong to a select group of birds that appear equally adept at live hunting, pirating, and scavenging.

4. American Crows sometimes change eye color from blue/blue gray to brown as the bird matures-the reason for this change is not yet known.

5. In a study in Seattle, scientists found that Crows are able to recognize faces. Scientists captured seven Crows while wearing masks. The birds recognized the masks and would dive and “caw” at the masks after the capture. Soon, more than just the seven captured Crows were aware of and recognizing the masks-the Crows had communicated the information of the masks to the greater population.  When the researchers walked around campus without a mask, the Crows did not show any reaction.

6. They have been observed using cars to crush the shells of nuts they are eating, specifically using traffic signals to make sure they are safe when they fly down to pick up their nuts.  In Japan, crows are reported to have taken the strategy a step further by placing nuts in front of the tires of cars stopped at red lights.

7. American Crows are black from their beak to their tail with a shiny violet/purple sheen. They are larger than a Fish crow.

8. They're very smart birds. They can solve puzzles, learn symbols, and remember information.

9. Nesting groups of crows share tasks, so one crow might serve as a guard while another finds food and another gives an alarm if a hawk or great horned owl approaches. They like to chase owls and hawks!

10. They're an omnivore eating everything including insects, snails, lizards, small mammals, bird eggs, young birds, corn, fruit, garbage, McDonalds French fries, and road kill.

11. Even though they are excellent detectives at finding where humans picnic, it's not healthy for them to eat our food. Help the crows by not feeding them our human food.

12. Their flight style is unique; a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.

13. Young American Crows do not breed until they are at least two years old, and most do not breed until they are four or more. In most populations the young help their parents raise young for a few years. Families may include up to 15 individuals and contain young from five different years.

14. The American Crow appears to be the biggest victim of West Nile virus.

15. In some areas the American Crow has a double life. It maintains a territory year round in which the entire extended family lives and forages together; but during much of the year, in-dividual crows leave the home territory to join large flocks at dumps and agricultural fields and to sleep in large roosts in winter.  Family members go together to the flocks, but do not stay together in the crowd. A crow may spend part of the day at home with its family in town and the rest with a flock feeding on waste grain out in the country.

16. Crows are crafty foragers that sometimes follow adult birds to find where their nests are hidden. They sometimes steal food from other animals. A group of crows was seen distracting a river otter to steal its fish, and another group followed Common Mergansers to catch minnows the ducks were chasing into the shallows. They also sometimes follow songbirds as they arrive from a long migration flight and capture the exhausted birds. Crows also catch fish, eat from outdoor dog dishes, and take fruit from trees.

17. Crows sometimes make and use tools. Examples include a captive crow using a cup to carry water over to a bowl of dry mash; shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food; and breaking off pieces of pine cone to drop on tree climbers near a nest.

18. That crows and ravens are classified as songbirds may come as a surprise, but it is the presence of a voice box, or syrinx, rather than talent for melody that qualifies them. They use their vocal equipment to communicate with a large vocabulary of expressive calls for courting, gathering, warning and more. Ornithologists have identified as many as 24 crow calls and up to 64 distinct raven vocalizations.

19. Crows are a prominent part of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds. Animal trainer Ray Berwick used several crows in the film, in part because the birds were easy to train.

20. Jays and mockingbirds are not the only mimics in the birding world. Crows can mimic several animal sounds.

21. Though they are related, crows and ravens are different birds. They look alike, but on average, ravens are several inches longer.

22. As omnivorous birds, crows will consume almost anything edible. The oldest recorded wild American crow was 16, and a captive one in New York lived to be 59.

23. Crows in snowy areas have been observed sliding down snow banks, purely for fun. Groups of crows have been observed cooperating to lift the lid of a trash can. They also have excellent memories, remembering not only where their food cache is but also how long they have left it and when to return before itspoils.

24. In March, crows perform their courtship ritual, which consists of dramatic aerial maneuvers and a dance involving bowing, strutting with spread wings and tail and a general puffing of the feather coat. While dancing, the crows utter a gentle, uncrowlike "rattle"song.

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