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Do Crows Sing?

Yes! Each crow’s song is particular to its social group
© Marlin Harms View Large

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 many birds, crows don’t sing loudly to attract mates from a distance. Instead, they sing softly — and at close range — during courtship, with a mix of soft cooing, rattles, growls, bowing movements, and mutual nuzzling. 
Support for BirdNote comes from Audubon Park Wild Bird Food, welcoming the return of songbirds with full feeders. Spring bird-feeding tips at audubonpark.com.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Do Crows Sing?

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[American Crow calling, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/100700, 0.06-.08] 

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

Unlike many birds, crows don’t sing loudly to attract mates from a distance. Instead, they sing softly — and at close range — during courtship, with a rich mix of soft cooing, rattles, growls, bowing movements, and mutual nuzzling. [Coo-ing Macaulay 82044]

And a crow’s song is particular to its social group. Studies of captive groups showed that each group develops distinctive sound elements, that become a kind of cultural tradition — a dialect — which crows use to recognize one another.

So even if someone knows only three birds, as long as one of them is the crow, there will always be something new to learn.

BirdNote writers include Bob Sundstrom, Todd Peterson, Dennis Paulson, Ellen Black-stone and Chris Peterson. 

For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein. 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Crow calling [100700]; song / 'coo-ing' : http://miracleofnature.org/blog/american-crow-cooing] recorded by W L Hershberger. nuzzling and coo-ing [82044} recorded by Eleanor D Brown.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org  May 2018  Narrator: Michael Stein.

ID#    AMCR-07-2015-05-22 AMCR-07    

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