Crows are black birds in the family Corvidae and the genus Corvus. These birds are common throughout the world except South America and Antarctica. Of the 45 species within the genus, all are commonly referred to as crows or corvids.
In addition to their common name, a group of crows is usually called a murder. People see murders of crows throughout their range, hanging around carrion or some other food source.
Additional collective nouns for crows include:
The last four collective nouns in the list are a play on the sound crows usually make. The most common vocalization of crows is the “caw” sound.
Because crows in large groups caw loudly, clever people refer to a group of crows as a Cawcus, Cawroboree (a play on the aboriginal term corroboree in Australia), Cawlection, or Cawldron.
Crows are clever, intelligent birds that can identify humans with whom they interact negatively. After a negative interaction, they avoid the human and that human’s territory. Crows also remember humans with whom they interact positively, often returning to visit them.
What is a Pair of Crows Called?
Crows are monogamous birds and stay together until one of them dies. A male typically courts a female by puffing up his feathers and bowing to her while vocalizing. Pairs of crows do not have a specific name.
When these breeding pairs are together, they constantly touch and spend time preening and grooming each other. These family-oriented birds maintain a territory that they return to during each breeding season.
The offspring of the male and female crows typically stay within the territory after hatching and help raise their new, younger siblings in subsequent years. These juvenile birds may remain with their parents and siblings for years afterward.
Crows do not start reproducing until at least age 2, but often not until age 5 or older. Once they are sexually mature, they will move on, find a mate within their roosting flock, and establish their own territory.
What are Baby Crows Called?
Both male and female crows work together to build their nests in trees or large shrubs. These basket-shaped nests contain sticks, weeds, mud, moss, and grasses. The female lays between 3 and 9 eggs, depending on the species, and incubates them for almost three weeks.
After hatching, the chicks spend four or five weeks being cared for by both parents and sometimes older siblings who help to feed them. Baby crows do not have a specific name and are usually referred to as chicks.
Once the chicks fledge after four or five weeks, they leave the nest and start feeding themselves. These juvenile crows become proficient at finding food. In some crow species, juveniles even learn how to use tools to access more food and can teach tool use to others.
Do Crows Flock Together in Groups?
Family groups of crows occasionally leave their home territory to flock with unrelated crows. They join other flocks around food sources, such as road kill, dumps, or agricultural fields, especially after a harvest.
During the winter, crows often roost together outside of their family groups to stay warm. These large groups of crows can contain hundreds of birds. In some places, these roosts may include millions of crows.
Crows start forming roosting flocks in the late afternoon after foraging for food. As dusk approaches, these flocks move together in groups toward their nightly roosting location. This helps reduce the risk of predation on crows when they fly in groups rather than alone.
Great Horned Owls are a major predator of crows. They hunt at night when crows are roosting in flocks. These flocks may help protect crows from predation. Crows often seem to prefer roosting in well-lit areas so they can see the owls and are not surprised by an attack.
Do Crows Migrate?
Many crows do not migrate. They remain in the same general region where they breed year-round. In the winter, they roost at night in a specific location with other crows outside their home territory that they return to every year. Many birds still return to their home territory once per day.
Crows that live further north in Canada and the northern US, where it gets well below freezing in the winter, migrate further south. These migrating flocks move and roost together until they return to their home territories before the breeding season.
One popular winter strategy that crows display is partial migration, where some crows migrate south while others stay home. While scientists do not understand why crows and other species use this strategy, they think it may be a transitional stage before total migration.
Because of the changing climate, many species across taxa follow the example of crows. This may help to ensure the success of the population no matter what consequences of climate change may occur.