Crows are common all across the United States. They look very similar to common ravens, but smaller (about 11 to 21 ounces), but they can still have a wingspan of over three feet. The shape of the tail is different as well, if you spot one in flight (there’s an illustration on our raven page).
The typical call is higher-pitched than a raven; you can hear it in the “Sounds” section of this page. This isn’t always a reliable way to tell them apart, though, because both crows and ravens have a wide variety of vocalizations and are good at imitating other birds.
Ravens in this ecosystem
Crows are highly susceptible to West Nile virus (WNV). Since the arrival of the virus in the U.S., the American crow population has declined by 45%. WNV can’t be transmitted directly from crows to humans; the only way people get it is from a mosquito that has bitten an infected crow.
Despite the decline due to WNV, the population is currently increasing. The BirdLife Fact Sheet estimates the American crow population at around 31 million. The large range, current trend, and high overall population are why their IUCN conservation status is still Least Concern.
The National Park Service’s Yellowstone Bird Checklist lists crows as “uncommon” within the park, but they are seen frequently in other parts of the ecosystem.
Crows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and can’t be kept as pets without special permits.
American crows are omnivores. In the wild, they will eat rodents, worms, frogs, seeds, nuts, and fruit. They are active scavengers, eating both carrion and human garbage.
At the Sanctuary, we feed a mix of meats, dog kibble, fruits, and vegetables.
BEHAVIOR & Lifespan
Crows are extremely smart birds. They’re known not only for using tools, but making them as well. They can be taught to talk like parrots.
In the wild, American crows have a life expectancy of around 7-8 years, but have been known to live 30 years in captivity.
These birds are kept at our facility with permission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under Migratory Bird Permit #MB026859-2.