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Species Description

Fish Crow

Corvus ossifragus


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae

Description

Entirely black. 39 cm (15.5 in) in length. The call of this crow is a nasal, high, single or double note.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in late March, peaks from late April into June, and extends into mid-June. The nest is usually in the top of a conifer, but ranges in height (1.8-27 m; 6-90 feet). The cup-shaped nest is made of sticks and twigs. The female lays 4-5 eggs that she incubates for 16-18 days. The male may also incubate, but this is unknown. The young are altricial and fledge around 21 days after hatching.

Natural History

The Fish Crow inhabits a variety of places, being found in urban areas, marshes, and woodlands, but most commonly near the shores of lakes and rivers. The diet of the Fish Crow is variable and includes marine invertebrates, carrion, bird eggs and nestlings, fruit, and seeds. Food is gathered by picking most items up off the ground or out of the nest. The Fish Crow opens mollusks for eating by continuously dropping them on a hard surface to crack them open.

Range

Fish Crow Region Map The Fish Crow is found all year in coastal areas of the southern and eastern United States. Rarely, breeding individuals can also be found near the Mississippi flood plain as far north as Illinois, and east from Illinois on the Ohio River. In Georgia, the Fish Crow is uncommon in the Piedmont and mountain areas. Breeding individuals are fairly common in the southern half of the state, and birds can be found throughout the year in the coastal areas.

Conservation Status

The Fish Crow has a limited range, but appears to live easily in close proximity to humans. By eating bird eggs and nestlings it can cause great damage, especially for large colonies of water birds. This species is common in appropriate habitat and is not listed as Threatened or Endangered in any part of its southeastern range.

Similar Species

In the Southeast, the species most similar to the Fish Crow is the American Crow. The American Crow is slightly larger and has a more typical sounding call (caw, caw). Another similar species found in the east is the Common Raven. The Common Raven is much larger than the Fish Crow and has a larger bill and a wedge-shaped tail.