Do you know that crows never forget a face? Crows are highly intelligent black-feathered birds known for their communication and problem-solving skills. You can find crows on all continents except for Antarctica. However, seeing a baby crow around may be pretty rare for several reasons we explore.
This article will look at everything you might like to know about baby crows.
Crows belong to the Aves class and the Corvidae family. Corvidae is a family consisting of birds like ravens, rooks, jackdaws, crows, etc.
The scientific name for a crow bird is Corvus brachyrhynchos which means “short-billed.”
There are different species of crows across the world. Some of them include the following:
A baby crow is called a chick. When these chicks hatch, they are called hatchlings. When baby crows stay in their nest, they are referred to as nestlings.
Once chicks leave the nest, they are called fledgling crows. A one-year-old crow may also be called a yearling.
Crows are intelligent social birds you will mostly find staying together in groups. We refer to a group of crows as a mob of crows, a murder of crows, or a horde of crows.
These birds could travel in groups of 10 or more and use different types of sound to alert other birds of predators.
You may also see one crow bird keep watch in the group while the other birds feed. When danger lurks, the bird on guard alerts the others with a warning sound.
Generally, crows hardly migrate. They are more sedentary. However, some species travel in large groups containing many birds. They migrate to areas with a larger food supply or to escape cold weather.
Baby crows are distinguished by their bright blue eyes and pink bills. These bird species have fluffy feathers, differentiating them from adult birds with more slick feathers. Their beaks are also shorter and lighter than adult crows.
You may observe young crows playing with each other, hopping around, and cawing loudly.
There are several species of crows with varying lengths and weights. However, young crows are generally only a few centimeters long once they hatch. These bird species grow to adult size before fledging their nests.
The Little Crow is around 45-48 cm long, weighing 345-590g for males and 290-490g for females6. Crow species like American Crows are around 40-45cm.
Baby crows emerge with no feathers and only weigh a few grams. However, their feathers begin to sprout after a day or two. American crow babies weigh around 300-350g after they leave their nests. Adult American crows could weigh up to 620g.
Like humans, baby crows are pretty vocal and have a lot to say. They make a variety of sounds, including distress cries and begging calls. These sounds are much weaker than adult birds' deep “caw” sounds.
Begging calls are the most common. They are repetitive high-pitched cries that baby crows use to beg their parents for food. They often accompany these calls by stretching their necks and flapping their wings.
Baby crows also make distressed cries when they are in danger. These cries are low screams meant to alert others of the threat or danger.
As baby crows mature, their vocal cords deepen, and their song is said to link their social structures3.
Chicks are almost the same size as adults when they leave the nest. The chick, also called a fledgling crow, cannot fly but roams around on the ground hopping from one place to another.
Usually, their parents are always nearby. They may take a few weeks to learn to fly and other survival skills from their parents. During this period, their parents are very protective of them, which is when you will find crows most aggressive. Don't be surprised if you get dive-bombed by a protective parent.
As we mentioned, we can find crows on all continents except Antarctica. You can find crows in Africa, Europe, Central America, South America, etc.
Like other birds, crows make their home in nests. These birds could make their nests anywhere from tall, covered trees to cliffs, tall skyscrapers, etc. You can also see crows build nests close to the ground or on the ground.
Their nests are bulky and sturdy. Crows use dead twigs but could also use long grass and stems to form the outer structure. The birds line the inner part of the nest with softer materials like leaves, moss, paper, and mud.
A crow’s nest is typically large and could last many years. Crows may also build several backup nests.
Both male and female crows work together to create their nest. Typically, the males provide the construction materials while the females put the supplies together to make a nest. The parents may also have “helpers” who are related to them. These helpers assist the family in building their nest and taking care of their young.
Also, crows prefer building their nest in open areas rather than hollows or nesting boxes.
These intelligent birds are flexible with their nests. These birds could use the same nests every year or build new nests. This depends on the nesting materials available.
Typically, crows nest during the breeding season. After about a month, baby crows fledge a name for the period between hatching and being ready to take flight on their own. However, these fledgling crows can choose to stay with their parents for months or years longer.
When baby crows fledge, they perch on a tree canopy and can do so for as long as ten days or more before they can fly for the first time.
In the crow family, a young bird may also help their parents build nests for their younger siblings.
Baby crows stay with their parents for a year or even many years. While with their parents, they forage together and learn a lot from them. These include learning what to eat, what is dangerous, and what is not, among other lessons. Helpers and younger birds also help to train and protect the young from predators and wild animals.
Just like in any family, fights are not an uncommon sight. You may see crows fight other crows to defend their families and resources.
Generally, crows and corvid birds are very clever. They are inquisitive and can mimic human voices. Crows have such sharp minds that they do not forget a face2.
Just like cats and dogs, real baby crows are also quite playful.
Baby crows sleep in the nest created by their parents. The parents hardly sleep with their babies. Instead, they provide food for them at their nest while they sleep on a branch nearby.
The adults do not sleep in nests and prefer to sleep anywhere they feel safe. At night, you can find your local crows resting on tree branches, window sills, buildings, etc.
Thanks to their talons, you can see crows sleeping while perching or standing up. During the rainy season, they find buildings or windows to sleep in and protect themselves from the rain.
During winter, crows may migrate to warmer locations far from home.
So how do baby crows come to life? Well, it all starts when the baby crows become adults. Typically, it takes around two to four years for crows to reach reproductive maturity.
To attract a female partner, the male crow displays elaborate courtship rituals. They make soft cooing sounds, spread their feathers, bow their heads, and nuzzle against the beak of a potential mate as part of their courtship ritual.
When the female approves, the two form a monogamous pair for life. The pair will spend their time flying and grooming each other, establishing their own territory before physically mating.
After laying eggs, they both participate in building crow nests.
All crow eggs come in either olive green or blue-green with grey-brown blotches. You can find these blotches or markings around the end of the egg. These eggs also come in different shapes.
You can find crows in different parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, America, and Asia.
Crows lay their eggs in some parts of Asia and Africa between September and December.
In North America, Europe, and North and Central Asia, crows lay eggs during their typical breeding season, from April to June.
The number of eggs varies depending on the type of crow bird. American crows and Hooded crows lay between 3-5 eggs, while the Carrion crow could lay between 4-6 eggs. However, generally, the female incubates 4-5 eggs.
When the female lays her eggs, she sits on them for the vast majority of the incubation period. This happens for 18 days. As the female incubates, the male and other crows bring her food.
Once the egg hatches, these young birds grow very quickly. They stay within their nest for another 30 days, after which they fledge their nests. You will typically find a baby crow on the ground or perching on a branch for a few days before they fly for the first time. A fledgling crow will remain with its parents for many months or years. Most crows maintain long-term family bonds.
When more than two individuals take part in caring for the young within a single brood, we refer to that as cooperative breeding.
In the world of crows, this means that other helpers help cater to the baby birds in addition to crow parents.
Typically, these helpers are related to the parents or young crows from the last season.
Cooperative breeding comes at a cost for both the family crows and the helpers. The parents have to share their food and their territory with their helpers while their helpers delay their breeding efforts with the parents1.
The helpers assist with everything from feeding the chicks, brooding the young, and building a nest.
What do baby crows eat? Baby crows are fed by their parents and require a special diet. These babies eat softened food regurgitated by them. They feed on soft food for a few weeks - typically around two weeks, before they are fed more solid food.
The young birds feed on animal proteins like eggs, chicken, fish, and meat. In the wild, baby crows feed on nuts and seeds like acorns, walnuts, peanuts, etc.
These baby birds also feed very often (for at least every twenty to thirty minutes). As they get older, the time frames between meals begin to increase.
Adult crows, on the other hand, are omnivores and can feed on both animals and plants. Crows are not very picky animals and can feed on different types of food4. This includes seeds, fruits, grains, lizards, small snakes, fish, worms, food from trash cans, etc.
Crows keep their nest well-covered, just like most birds. Typically, crows position their nest high up the tree canopy.
Crow nestlings grow quickly and almost reach their full adult weight before fledging. As such, it is rare to see a baby crow. However, you may see a baby crow on the ground or around the nest. These chicks roam around their nest but within a safe distance from their parents.
If you find an actual baby crow, its parents are most likely very close by.
You may see a flightless baby crow on the ground and wonder what to do with it.
First, if you are still determining what condition the young crow is in, it is best to leave it alone.
Finding a baby crow on the ground flightless and with few black feathers is normal. It could be a fledgling crow. Typically, you could find a fledgling crow spending a day or two on the ground before flying to its tree tops.
Also, baby crows are only familiar with their parents. They are not comfortable with humans. For these baby birds, first contact with humans may be terrifying. Adult crows do all it takes to protect their young from potential predators. Like any other animal, leaving the baby crow with its family is best. However, if you are sure the baby bird lost its parents or has an injury, you could contact a professional.
Crows are beautiful and intelligent birds, and you may wonder if keeping one as a pet is okay.
Crows are well-recognized birds and fall under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA). Under this act, keeping crows as pets in the United States is illegal.
It is also illegal to harass or harm crows in the United States.
Under the MBTA, there are a few exceptions to caring for crows. For example, if you find a baby crow injured or sick, you can get a permit to keep it under your care until it fully recovers from its health problems.
However, you still need to meet a few requirements to get this permit.
Also, you can keep some crow species, like the pied crow, as pets because they are not native to the United States. In the UK, keeping any wild bird as a pet is illegal.
Generally, crows are social birds. These birds do not function well in captivity. Like any other wild animal, without proper knowledge, your best intention might do more harm than good. They need the companionship of their family to thrive.
Several things can cause the death of baby crows still in their nest. This includes starvation or inadequate diet, harsh weather conditions, or attacks from predators like raccoons, owls, and other animals. Natural causes like strong winds or heavy rains can disturb crows’ nests, causing the eggs to fall out of the nest or the young to become injured.
In some cases, baby crows may fall from the nest due to a lack of proper development of the wing muscles. Crows will be vulnerable to predators if they are too weak to fly or climb back up.
Adult crow predators include eagles, owls, and coyotes. You may see an adult crow feed on a dead animal on the road5. Aside from being a dangerous place because of fast-moving traffic, this also puts them at risk of attacks by coyotes.
Human beings can also be a threat to these birds. Farmers may poison crows if they consider them a threat to their farms. Other human activities such as habitat destruction, deforestation, and exposure to toxic substances can also be contributing factors to the death of baby crows.
Baby crows are unique creatures characterized by their blue eyes and pink bills, and these young birds are beautiful to look at. Like any baby, baby crows require the attention and care of their parents to thrive.
They learn how to fly, feed and survive from their parents and helpers.
If you've ever wondered what the world of baby crows was like, you can go through our article above to get all the details.
SCHOENLE, L.A., TOWNSEND, A.K. and LOVETTE, I.J. (2007), Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in a cooperatively breeding corvid, the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Molecular Ecology Notes, 7: 46-48.
Zareen, Shehzad & Rehman, Hameed & Zareen, Hira & Bukhari, Nadia & Saeed, Kausar & Ullah, Raqeeb & Ahmad, Waqar & Ateeq, Muhammad. (2016). Ability of Grey-necked Crow (Corvus splendens) in Human face recognition from Kohat, KPK, Pakistan. JOURNAL OF ENTOMOLOGY AND ZOOLOGY STUDIES. 4. 364-365.
Brown, E.D. (1985), The Role of Song and Vocal Imitation among Common Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 68: 115-136.
Good, E. E. (1952). THE LIFE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN CROW CORVUS BRACHYRHYNCHOS, BREHM. The Ohio State University.
Bray, A., & Mengak, M. T. (2020). Managing Wildlife Damage: American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) (pdf).
Rowley, I. (1970). The genus Corvus (Aves: Corvidae) in Australia. CSIRO Wildlife Research, 15(1), 27-71.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.