American Crow

Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

Pictures: (click for larger images)

  American Crow perching in a tree on Le Conte.  The W Hotel is in the background.  5/10/05 Photo by Jason Finley.
Why did the crow cross the road?  Photo by Jason Finley.
A crow's nest!  In a eucalyptus tree near Veteran and Strathmore.  Photo by Sean Hoppes.  5-14-05
A baby crow (fledgling) that fell down to the ground and couldn't get back up to the nest or any trees.  This was just outside the Botanical Garden.  The parents were nearby and one of the garden staff was going to construct a replacement nest to try to get it back up into the trees or otherwise make sure the baby was taken care of.  Its blue eyes will darken as it ages.  More baby crow info.  Photo by Jason Finley.  5/18/05
A hi-res picture of a curious crow perched in a bottlebrush tree near Hershey Hall.  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/14/05
A group of crows investigating the ground on the grassy slopes of the Janss Steps.  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/18/05 [large file!]


Description: Large. 18" in length (beak to tail), larger than a pigeon.  Completely black.  Noticeably smaller than the Common Raven, and has a longer and thinner beak.  Crows also have a tail that's shaped more like a long, thin rectangle, whereas the ravens have a wedge-shaped tail.

Sound: "Caw."  Listen to a Crow calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Common year-round.

Location: All over campus.  They seem to particularly like the residential streets in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Notes: In addition to the physical differences from ravens mentioned above, crows can be seen in larger groups, whereas you'll hardly ever see more than two adult ravens together.  Sometimes young crows will stick around to help raise the next batch of offspring in teh family.  Ravens also keep to a single territory whereas crows seem to get around more.  Crows can also be aggressive toward other birds, even bigger ones!  Sometimes they team up to pick on other birds.  Crows and ravens both are pretty smart.  Probably smarter than you think.

Here is a Crow FAQ by Dr. Kevin J. McGowan at Cornell University.  He does research on crows and also wrote the pages for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.


Coming soon: the story of really cool crow research done at UCLA in the 1980s by Dr. Carolee Caffrey.

Historical Dr. Loye Miller wrote about the "Western Crow" as it was known back then:

We have many records of Crows flying high across the campus at various times of the year.  In July they not infrequently come in small flocks, following the breeding season, and spend a short period about the sycamores.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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