Crow Facts, Figures, FAQs

Crows are curious birds, exhibiting superior intelligence and the ability to communicate on an advanced level. Throughout history, crows have represented mysterious and mythical spirits.

Their sometimes odd behavior captures our attention and interest, often leaving us puzzled over their clever antics.

There are many misconceptions regarding the crow and its behavior. To find out more, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about crows.


    Identifying crows

    The characteristics and size of a crow distinguish it from other birds.

    1.) What does a crow look like?

    A crow is a medium-to-large size bird with a black beak, feathers, and feet. Its black feathers sometimes exhibit a bluish-black iridescence. The crow is a stocky bird with strong feet and a strong, thick bill.

    2.) How big is a crow vs. a raven?

    A crow weighs about 1.1 lbs and a raven up to 4.4 lbs.

    3.) What is a crow’s lifespan?

    The American crow typically lives up to 7-8 years but may live up to 20 years.

    4.) How many eggs does a crow lay?

    A nesting pair of crows will hatch 3-9 eggs per clutch.

    VIDEO: A pet crow that acts like a dog

    5.) Crow Facts: Where are crows found?

    Crows can be found on all temperate continents except South America and some islands.

    6.) In what bird family is the crow species?

    Crows are birds of the genus Corvus and are members of the broader family of birds called Corvidae. Other birds from the Corvus genus include ravens and rooks. (Corvus means ‘raven’ in Latin.)

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    All About Crows

    7.) What are other names for the crow?

    The crow comes from the same scientific family—genus Corvus—as the raven, rook, jackdaw, and magpie. There are about 42 different members of the genus Corvus, including the crow.

    8.) What is the difference between a crow and a raven?

    Science makes no consistent distinction between crows and ravens, although ravens are usually twice as large as crows. Ravens have a diamond-shaped tail when flying and a deeper croaking vocalization.

    9.) Crow Facts: What is a group of crows called?

    The collective name for a group of crows is a ‘flock’ or a ‘murder’ of crows.

    10.) What is the crow call sound?

    You’ve no doubt heard the repetitive ‘kaww-kaww’ call of the American crow. But it can create a wide variety of sounds, sometimes in response to other species.

    The meanings behind the crow’s vocalizations are not fully understood, but one of the crow’s loudest and urgent calls is a distress call when it senses imminent danger in the area, alerting other crows.

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    Crow Facts: Behavior

    11.) Are crows friendly or dangerous?

    Crows are not dangerous to humans, but they will attack if threatened or you come too close to their nesting area. On the other hand, crows have been known to present gifts to humans—like food items or shiny objects. But whether this behavior is intentional or not is impossible to know.

    12.) Do crows fight each other?

    Crows can become aggressive with each other over mates, food, and territory. Fatality is a possible outcome of an attack, but usually, the attacked bird was already weakened by other causes and therefore vulnerable. Crows exhibit these behaviors mostly towards birds outside of their main family or group.

    13.) Why do crows mourn other crows?

    Crows are curious and intelligent creatures. They are always learning and communicating what they know to others within the group. When a crow passes, it’s possible the others are trying to determine the danger at hand.

    14.) Do crows collect shiny objects?

    Folklore tells us that magpies are famous for collecting shiny objects in their nest. But there is no evidence this is true for either magpies or crows.

    Crow facts & FAQs

    15.) What is the roosting behavior of crows?

    Crows gather in roosts, a resting and sleeping location, numbering from 200 up to many thousands during their nonbreeding months and winter. Roosts provide security because of safety in numbers while the birds sleep. Crows tend to roost in same the spots over and over.

    16.) Do crows mate for life?

    Crows are very social birds, spending much of their life in large groups. But they do find a partner and mate for life—unless one of them passes away.

    17.) Do crows keep family close?

    Crow offspring from previous years sometimes help protect their parents’ nest and help to feed the young.

    18.) Are crows carnivores or omnivores?

    Crows are omnivores, which means they eat just about anything and everything. They maintain a diet of birds, fruits, nuts, seeds, mollusks, earthworms, frogs, bird eggs, mice, and roadkill (carrion).

    If you choose to feed crows in your yard, use foods like dry pet food, peanuts, eggs, tater tots, or meat scraps. But be aware the crows will learn fast and will be back for more!

    19.) Crow Facts: How far does a crow fly?

    A crow flies a distance of up to 40 miles per day depending on its roosting location and where it can find its food sources.

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    Crow Facts: Intelligence

    20.) Are crows intelligent?

    The ubiquitous crow is regarded as one of the world’s most intelligent animals. In fact, its encephalization quotient (or EQ)—a measure of relative brain size—equals that of many non-human primates.

    Crows are adaptable and opportunistic birds that score high on intelligence tests, some topping the avian IQ scale. They are observant, readily able to learn, and even exhibit play behavior with each other.

    Other intelligent behaviors exhibited by the crow include hiding and storing food and using bread crumbs to attract and catch fish. Crows communicate danger and the location of food sources by squawking to the larger group.

    21.) Do crows use tools?

    Researchers found evidence of tool use and tool construction by crows. They would sometimes use sticks to dig food items out of tight spaces.

    22.) Can a crow recognize human faces?

    Stressful situations can cause crows to remember human faces and warn other crows about the dangerous person. And they have an excellent memory. Researchers from the University of Washington who studied these interactions with humans found that the crows’ memories of a face lasted up to five years.

    23.) Crow Facts: Can crows speak?

    There are historical cases of captive crows that were trained to talk. (But don’t try this at home. Crows are wild animals and better left in their natural environment. Am official permit is required to keep a crow as a pet.)

    Crow Facts: Symbolism

    24.) What is the spiritual meaning of a crow?

    Historically, crows symbolize change and transformation. Some native cultures believe the crow is a trickster spirit, both mysterious and mischievous. As a totem or spirit animal, crows represent keen vision, transformation, and magic.

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    25.) What is a crow’s symbolism in folklore and myths?

    The raven and the crow symbolized mysterious traits and foretold future events for many historical cultures. Here is a sampling of crow myths through history:

    • In Celtic mythology, Morrighan the warrior goddess appears in the form of a crow or raven.
    • Roman poet Ovid viewed the crow as a harbinger of rain.
    • In the Bible’s book of Genesis, the raven is the first bird sent by Noah from the ark to find land after the flood receded.
    • Greeks viewed crows as a symbol of Apollo, god of prophecy.
    • In medieval times people believed crows were omens of long lives, monogamy, rain, and attacks.
    • Some Native American cultures believe the raven is the Creator of the World and also a trickster god and stealer of souls.
    • The Norse god Odin is often represented by the raven.
    • In Welsh and Cornish folklore, crows are associaed with death and the “other world.”
    • In Sweden and Denmark, ravens are believed to be ghosts of the murdered or an exorcised spirit.
    • The Hebrew Talmud tells the story of a raven that teaches mankind through Adam and Eve how to deal with death.

    VIDEO: A thirsty crow

    Crow Facts: Examples of crows in popular culture, language, and idioms

    • As the crow flies – A way of expressing distance between two points in roughly a straight line.
    • Scarecrow – Hay-stuffed, human-like figures are placed in cornfields to fend off scavenging crows and act as an ever-present deterrent.
    • Eat crow – An idiom meaning the humiliation of admitting defeat or a mistake in taking a strong position.
    • Crow’s nest – The stand at the top of the main mast of a ship for looking out across the sea.
    • Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – Perched above the chamber door, qoth the Raven “Nevermore.” Poe wrote his ominous tale in 1845.
    • Crow pose in yoga – A yoga pose in which your hands are placed on the floor, completely balancing the tucked-in body above.
    • Crow Indians – A Native American Plains tribe. Also known as Absaroka.
    • Counting crows – Foretelling the future from the behavior of birds is known as augury. The term ‘counting crows’ comes from such a tradition. If you count only one crow, you’ll have bad luck, two–good luck. And so on. Also a 1990s-era alt-rock band.
    • Crow’s feet – Wrinkles on the outside of a person’s eyes resembling a crow’s foot.
    • Crow Tarot – A tarot card deck dedicated to the “magical and intuitive nature of crows.”
    • To crow about something – Means to boast loudly about an accomplishment.
    • Crow quill pen – Draftsmen and lithographers used a crow quill pen to achieve fine details in their work.

    8 Fun Crow Facts

    1.) The oldest recorded age for a crow was 59 years old for a bird held in captivity.
    2.) Crows are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus, succumbing within a week of infection of the disease.
    3.) The Hawaiian and Mariana crow species are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    4.) Crows are protected in the U.S. by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
    5.) In J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, crows are agents of evil goblins.
    6.) The Old Crow brand of whiskey is one of Kentucky’s earliest bourbons. Scottish immigrant James C. Crow began distilling Old Crow there in the 1830s.
    7.) The crow is the national bird of Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom located in the Himalayas.
    8.) Animals that will hunt and feed on crows are owls, red-tailed hawks, raccoons, and cats.

    Crow Facts: Crow Quotes & Sayings

    If a crow speaks to the fox, he speaks to him from the top of the tree.
    – Charles de Leusse

    Intellectual is a parrot; wise man is a crow. One is repetitive; other is creative!
    – Mehmet Murat Ildan

    On a bare branch, a crow is perched — autumn evening.
    – Bashō

    If men had wings and bore black feathers, Few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    – Henry Ward Beecher

    And the crow once called the raven black.
    – George R.R. Martin

    If you want to fly with the eagles you can’t hang out with the crows.
    – Brock Lesnar

    Crows are more sincere than they look, you know.
    – Aki

    The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
    – William Blake

    More crow quotes

    I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.
    – Tom Waits

    Her voice was stark as a winter crow.
    – John Sandford

    In many traditions, crows are messengers and close attention is paid to their actions.
    – Robert Moss

    The crow wished everything was black, the Owl, that everything was white.
    – William Blake

    To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
    Bent in emptiness
    over emptiness
    But flying
    – Ted Hughes

    Even the blackest of them all, the crow, Renders good service as your man-at-arms, Crushing the beetle in his coat of mail. And crying havoc on the slug and snail.
    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    It is better to listen to a crow that lives in trees than to a learned man who lives only in ideas.
    – Kate Horsley

    What are you doing to me?” he asked the crow, tearful. Teaching you how to fly. “I can’t fly!” You’re flying right now. “I’m falling!” Every flight begins with a fall, the crow said.
    – George R.R. Martin

    Crows are not always available to give warning.
    – Carlos Castaneda

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    By Greg Johnson | Published 12/4/2020

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