American Crow

Corvus brachyrynchos

Order: Passeriformes

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

Diet Requirements

  • Fruit and vegetables, seeds, nuts, low-iron softbill diet, harboiled eggs, crickets, mealworms, ground meat, mice.

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management


Individual Identification


Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

  • Jessing corvids is possible but can be controversial. They lack the strong tarsus of raptors.


Potential Messaging

  • A great example of a common urban bird. Audiences relish the chance to see a crow close up, and learn about their neighborhood animals.

Acquisition Information

  • Non-releaseable imprinted and/or rehabilitated crows may be placed by wildlife rehabilitators.

Comments from the Rating System

  • Zoo America: We’ve had difficulty training rehabilitated birds. Jessing is also difficult.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Many species of crows are found throughout the world and vary slightly in color and size. The American Crow is found throughout North America. They are found in grasslands, forests, wetlands, and urban areas.

Physical Description

They are 16-20 inches long from head to tail and have black feathers with an iridescent sheen. They can be distinguished from the Common Raven, a similar bird in the Corvidae family, by their smaller size and fan-shaped tail, as opposed to the raven’s wedge-shaped tail.

Life Cycle

Crows are monogamous birds and cooperate in nest-building, incubating eggs, and caring for their young. Females lay 2-5 speckled green eggs, which are incubated for 17-20 days; the chicks will fledge four to five weeks later. Offspring from previous broods will often remain with the parents and help raise their chicks and defend their territory.


Crows are known for their cawing (a territorial call) but they can make a variety of other sounds as well. Their variety of vocalizations gives them excellent communication skills, which help them form strong family bonds. Crows usually live in flocks of up to 15 individuals, but may be much larger. They are known to be highly intelligent and are capable of making and using tools. They’ve been observed bending stiff grass stems into hooks to extract grubs from logs and dropping hard-shelled food items onto roads or rocks to break them open. American Crows living in cold northern climates sometimes migrate south in winter. In more temperate areas, crows are resident year-round. Large groups of migrating crows will congregate at a roost overnight for safety and to cooperatively find food.

Threats and Conservation Status


Did you know…


Crow - Jeckle

American Crow, Jeckle, 20 yrs old. -HHPZ


Contributors and Citations

  • Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, San Jose

Top Photo Credit:  Wikimedia commons