Widespread, common, and obvious, the American Crow is known by most
people. What is less well known is how complex its life is. Young crows
remain with their parents until they can find a home of their own, and
individual relationships may last years.
American Crows congregate in large numbers in winter to sleep in
communal roosts. These roosts can be of a few hundred, several thousand,
or even up to two million crows. Some roosts have been forming in the
same general area for well over 100 years. In the last few decades some
of these roosts have moved into urban areas where the noise and mess
cause conflicts with people.
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, but not
all, populations the young stay with their parents and help them raise
young in subsequent years. Families may include up to 15 individuals and
contain young from five different years.
The American Crow appears to be the biggest victim of West Nile
virus, a disease recently introduced to North America. Crows die within
one week of infection, and few seem able to survive exposure. No other
North American bird is dying at the same rate from the disease, and the
loss of crows in some areas has been severe.
In some areas, the American Crow has a double life. It maintains a
territory year-round in which all members of its extended family live
and forage together. But during much of the year, individual crows leave
the home territory periodically. They join large flocks foraging at
dumps and agricultural fields, and 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
Despite being a common exploiter of roadkill, the American Crow is
not specialized to be a scavenger, and carrion is only a very small part
of its diet. Its stout bill is not strong enough to break through the
skin of even a gray squirrel. It must wait for something else to open a
carcass or for the carcass to decompose and become tender enough to
Selasphorus sasin sasin
Selasphorus sasin sedentarius
taken from: The
Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by
David Allen Sibley
Size: 40-53 cm (16-21 in)
Wingspan: 85-100 cm (33-39 in)
Weight: 316-620 g (11.15-21.89 ounces)
Eyes dark brown.
All feathers black glossed with violet.
Sex DifferencesSexes alike in plumage, but male averages slightly larger.ImmatureJuvenile similar to adult, but head feathers not glossy and more
fluffy, inside of mouth red. Immature wing and tail feathers becoming
brownish over the course of the first year.
Common call a harsh "caw." Also a variety of rattles, coos, and clear
Forest edge, Open landscapes, Grassland with
scattered trees, Streams, upland
Monogamous, Solitary nester
Blue green to olive green with dark
Number of Eggs: 3 - 7
Egg Incubator: Both sexes
Branches and twigs., Lined with tree
material, grass, feathers, moss, and hair..
Condition at Hatching: Naked except
for sparse tufts of grayish down, eyes
Length Range: 44 cm (17.5 in)
Weight: 453 g (16 oz)
Size: 4. Large (16 - 32 in)
Color Primary: Black
Underparts: Black with iridescent blue sheen.
Upperparts: Black with iridescent blue sheen.
Back Pattern: Solid
Belly Pattern: Solid
Breast Pattern: Solid
Bill Shape: All-purpose
Eye Color: Steel gray to blue-gray in
young, turning gray, then brown, and eventually
dark brown at maturity.
Head Pattern: Plain
Crown Color: Black
Forehead Color: Black
Nape Color: Black
Throat Color: Black
Cere color: No Data
Flight Pattern: Slow steady delierate direct
flight with deep wing beats., Glides with slight
dihedral from altitude to perch or ground, between
perches, and from perch to ground.
Wingspan Range: 84-102 cm (33-40 in)
Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
Tail Pattern: Solid
Upper Tail: Black with iridescent blue and green
Under Tail: Black
Leg Color: Black
Forages mostly on ground. Pecks from surface and digs through litter.
Caches food for later use.