American crow is a common glossy, black bird throughout North America. Feathers of American crow are shiny and varicolored while their bills are black, solid and strong, bent backwards in the end. Nostrils are covered with rough and stiff plumage. Young and adult crows are the same size, though eyes of young are blue and their mouths are pink inside. With growing up their eyes and mouths become darker. Young are also identified by sharpened, symmetric end of tails while adults’ feathers on the end of tails are wide open and rounded. In addition, during the first winter and spring of their lives, wings and tails of youngsters are irregularly covered with brown colored feathers. And then, when first molt happens, new growing hair is darker and shiny, thus giving young appearance of adults.
American crows’ habitat covers vast territory. In Canada it stretches from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean. It also includes northern regions of Mexico, southern states of US and overseas territories of France – St-Pierre and Miquelon. Crows live in areas with open view and trees. Being robbers, crows find farms and meadows as suitable places for living and raiding for food. Crows also find forest areas and especially edges of forests perfect for breeding or just sitting on branches. They can be found in city parks, suburbs of large cities as well as along the seashore.
American crows are very sociable animals, usually joining small groups made up of families. As a regular rule, all their lives they live in the same place, being permanent residents of the area, defending the home range and growing up young. However, as autumn comes, some crows migrate from northern regions to the south. Crows congregate in flocks to rest in sleep. Flocks are usually quite large, reaching hundreds of thousands. American crows are diurnal. They congregate at dusk on trees and fly to the place of roosting. In winters, the crows congregate into large roosts, because of which some birds get too close to their breeding areas. Along with flying, they often walk on branches of trees and on the ground. The crows usually search for food on the ground: they walk around, looking for suitable items and picking. To feed, they can make up small groups of a few individuals. However, when foraging, they can congregate into larger groups in larger areas.
American Crows are omnivorous, meaning that they eat food of both plant and animal origin. During spring and summer seasons they feed upon worms, larvae and insects as well as corns, fruits and nuts. In autumn and winter they eat acorns, nuts and walnuts. Crows also enjoy preying on small rabbits, frogs and mice. On the other hand, being nest predators, they feed on eggs. Crows that live in close proximity to human settlements, look for food in trash and feed upon animals hit by cars.
The crows are monogamous. Mated pairs cooperate, forming big groups of around 15 birds from different breeding seasons. They stay and live together as families. Planning to have chicks, a male and a female start building a nest, making it of bark, branches of trees, sticks, vegetable fibers and other available material. Season of nesting takes place quite early. For example, some individuals of American crow start incubating eggs since April. Thus, females lay 4-5 eggs, incubating them around 18 days. Chicks, hatching, are altricial and require care and feeding by parents. Parents feed the chicks by regurgitating food into their mouths. Feathers start to appear in 35 days after their hatching out of eggs. A month later the chicks are able to leave, but parents don’t allow them to, feeding and caring for them throughout another month. American crow reaches its sexual maturity at the age of 3 years.
In spite of being protected, hunting season in USA affects the crows along with many other animals. Unfortunately, a huge number of American crows is killed for entertainment purposes, for sporting (when hunting on other birds is prohibited by law) and during campaigns, having a goal to reduce crows’ population.
IUCN doesn’t consider American crows endangered and has listed them in the IUCN Red List as Least Concern. BirdLife International, the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, notes that estimated population of the American craw reaches up to 31 million.
Feeding on fruit and nuts, the crows unconsciously become dispersers of seeds. They also contribute to decay of corpses and carcasses by pecking them.