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American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

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The Crafty American Crow

Crows. Large, black, noisy. The raucous birds of the neighborhood. Some people love them; others aren't so sure. American Crows are crafty and resourceful. Crows have adapted to our modern world. For one thing, they, too have a taste for fast food. Watch for crows at your local fast food joint.... read more »

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Tale of a Rascal Crow

Crows and their cousins - ravens, magpies, jackdaws, rooks, jays, and others - are among the cleverest birds in the world. Some even use tools - including a lit cigarette! A Rook, like this one, allegedly set fire to the thatched roof of Anne Hathaway’s historic cottage in England. And all... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Crow Parents, Fearless Defenders

Although the American Crow may seem blasé about pillaging another bird's nest, it regards a threat to its own young as a punishable offense. To protect their nest, adult crows dive-bomb people, cats, and other animals, and even other birds (including this kite -- click View Large). Young crows... read more »

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Why the Crow Is Black

Out of the 810 species of North American birds, only two are completely black: the American Crow and the Common Raven. Here's a story that explains why the crow is black, according to Native American tradition. When Crow came into the world, he wore all the colors of the rainbow, but the other... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Crows Preening

American Crows and other birds groom each other while sitting side by side on a wire or branch. One stretches out its neck, and the groomer, or preener, twirls individual feathers in its beak, often starting at the back of the head and working around to the front. This grooming, known as ... read more »

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Crows and Chips

Crows didn't get where they are today by being shy or slow. They take advantage of whatever food they find, where and when they find it. Listener Jerry Campbell told his story of one crow making off with three chips. Catch a video of another clever crow in Japan.Sign up for the BirdNote podcast,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, listener story

Ravens and Crows - Who Is Who

Is that big black bird a crow or a raven? How can you tell? Ravens (seen right here) often travel in pairs, while crows (left) are seen in larger groups. Also, study the tail as the bird flies overhead. A crow's tail is shaped like a fan, while the raven's tail appears wedge-shaped. Another clue... read more »

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The Crow and the Gull

Crows and gulls are opportunists - grabbing a bite wherever, whenever, however they can. Listener Nick Woodiwiss of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, wrote to BirdNote about a funny scene between an American Crow and a Glaucous-winged Gull on the beach. Can you guess who won?The gull seen here... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, listener story

Angry Birds

Every day, nearly 3.5 million hours are spent playing Rovio's award-winning game, "Angry Birds." We don't know of too many birds whose eggs are stolen by pigs, but no bird is happy when its eggs are stolen. You might hear an American Robin, sounding its alarm. An angry Peregrine Falcon protects... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Crows Recognize Individual Faces

To find out if a crow can recognize an individual human face, Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington wore a mask while trapping, banding, and then releasing seven American Crows on campus. Later, when he walked through the campus wearing the mask, it was automatic! A big group of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, science

Small Birds Mob Big Ones

When smaller birds join forces to ward off larger birds, it's called mobbing. This behavior — like calling your family for help — is used by many bird species. The best time to observe mobbing is spring and early summer, when breeding birds are trying to protect their nests and young. Birds... read more »

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The Crows' Night Roost

Have you noticed groups of crows flying overhead in the late afternoon, wheeling and diving? These are American Crows with a purpose. They're headed to their night roost, a giant slumber party. Up to 40,000 crows in one space is not uncommon for a winter-time roost. Gathering at dusk, crows land... read more »

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Parking Lot Birds

You can find birds nearly everywhere. Even parking lots. Next time you're at a mall, grab a coffee, take a seat outside, and look around you. How many different species of birds can you see? Crows and gulls command the rooftops. Rock Pigeons abound. A European Starling-like this one-picks up the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Crow Funeral - with Tony Angell

Tony Angell, along with Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, wrote the book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans. Tony says, "A crow 'funeral' is where the deceased bird is surrounded by members of the same species,... read more »

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How Humans Affect Competition Among Birds

Evolutionary time is long — the earliest ancestors of birds emerged around 50 million years ago. Against that yardstick, the length of time humans have been living in cities is a blip. But that blip has resulted in huge changes for urban birds, crows in particular, as John Marzluff explores in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Do Crows Sing?

It’s been said that if someone knows only three birds, one of them will be the crow. They’re common, easy to see, and even easier to hear. But crow voices are complicated. Altogether, crows may use 30 sound elements in different combinations, and one of the most intriguing is their song. Unlike... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Flyin' in the Rain

Most birds are mostly waterproof. Their feathers, combined with oil from preen glands, keep them pretty watertight. So why do birds avoid flying during rainstorms? It may have more to do with the air than with the water. Rainstorms tend to occur when atmospheric pressure is low. Air in a low... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight
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