Every once in a while, a huge flock of crows comes our way. They fill up the yard or the tree branches, making quite a racket. They are gathering together to sleep, and their big group is called a “roost”. No one is sure why these birds do this, though it may be for protection from predators. While the roost is something you may see only in the fall and winter (when the birds aren’t breeding), sighting individual crows is not unusual.They can be found over much of North America, from natural areas such as woodlands and beaches to urban sites like city parks and garbage dumps.
Here are a few other facts you might not have known about crows:
- Crows are very social animals and live in large family groups.
- In most cases, males and females mate for life.
- Most crows do not breed until they are four years old or more. Until they are ready for their own family, young birds will help their parents raise more chicks.
- Crows lay 2-6 eggs at a time.
- Some crows have pigmentation problems and are completely white.
- These birds are intelligent and good problem-solvers.
- They can recognize individual human faces.
- Crows eat almost anything, including insects, small animals, earthworms, seeds, garbage, pet food, and carrion.
- Crows practice “anting”. They allow ants to climb on them, squash the ants, and then rub their feathers with the ants. Some scientists believed the mashed ants work as a type of insect repellent. Others think they may help soothe the birds’ skin as they molt.
- Crows can live a long time! Although many wild birds don’t survive the first year, they have the potential for a long life span. The oldest known wild American crow was 29 years old; the oldest one in captivity was 59 years old.
Want to Learn More About Crows?
Check out one of these great sites:
“American Crow.” BorealBirds.org
“American Crow.” Cornell Lab or Ornithology.
“Frequently Asked Questions about Crows.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Feature image by BryanHanson
Photo of flock by lauramusikanski