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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Learning a lot about crows

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lately, I have been hearing a lot of individuals talk about crows.

From my co-workers discussing how smart they are to clients asking how they can get rid of them, everyone seems to be fascinated by crows.

So I guess you could say I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what interesting things I could share about those fascinating black birds called crows.

The American Crow is all black, including its legs and bill. However, when molting the older feathers will often appear brownish or scaly. It is known as a large, long-legged, thick-necked bird with a heavy, straight bill.

However, the most distinguishing feature of the American Crow is its short rounded or squared off tail. Its tail is one of the ways you can tell it apart from Common Ravens.

American Crows can be found all over North America.

They have an average lifespan of 14 years, barring that they survive their first year of life, which can be difficult for them to do.

The oldest crow to ever survive in captivity was Tata. She lived to be 59 and lived with a family in New York after she was blown out of her nest during a storm.

Generally speaking, most individuals do not want to raise a crow. However, they may accidentally provide a home for this very social creature. Occasionally, American Crows will be found ni flocks that can number in the millions. They congregate in large numbers in winter to sleep in communal roosts. These roosts may have a few hundred up to two million crows in them. Interestingly, crows have been known to roost in the same general area for well over 100 years. Due to urban sprawl, these roost areas are now appearing in urban areas causing conflict between homeowners and these black wonders.

Other habitats that crows are known to venture into include fields, open woodlands and forests.

They do however thrive around people, in lawns, parking lots, athletic fields and city garbage dumps.

The American Crow will often hide its nest in a fork near the trunk of a tree or on a horizontal branch. Generally, they prefer evergreen trees. However, they will nest in and deciduous tree if nothing else is available.

Despite the issues surrounding the American Crow being located near humans, they do have some interesting habits. For starters, it is not uncommon to see a crow caring for a sick or dying cow. Often times, you will see them bringing food to the ill and keeping them company. Likewise, their inquisitive and sometimes mischievous minds get them in trouble when they decide to raid a garbage can.

There have been documented cases where a crow has been known to carry water in a cup to a dried mash, use a piece of wood to dig for food, and dropping pine cones on predators near their nests.

I won't disagree with anyone who says that the American Crow can be a nuisance. However, like my co-worker stated, they are very smart.

So next time you see a crow, maybe you should take a moment to see what it might be doing instead of shooing it away so quickly.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Nov. 25-26 -- Holiday, Extension Office closed,

* Nov. 30 -- PARP Program, Ivy Tech Workforce in Terre Haute, 3-5 p.m. Cost $10,

* Dec. 7 -- Crop Management Conference, the Beef House in Covington, 8:45 a.m. For more information about registration fees and PARP, call 765-762-3231 by Nov. 30,

* Dec. 11 -- Pinecone Birdfeeder Fest, McCormick's Creek State Park, 1 p.m., and

* Dec. 14 -- PARP Program, Cloverdale High School cafeteria, 6 p.m. Cost $10.