The common crow is a large, blue-black bird that grows up to almost two feet long. Crows can be found living in almost every state and are year-round residents in New England. These highly adaptable animals are commonly identified by their “caw-caw“ cry. They live in multiple habitats ranging from farmland to suburban neighborhoods, as long as they can find shelter and suitable trees for nesting.
Crows are omnivorous and eat grains, insects, carrion, eggs, reptiles, fish, vegetable matter and young birds.
Crows breed in the early spring, and can often be seen carrying building materials such as bark and twigs back to their nests. The nests are lined with soft materials like cloth, feathers and grass. Nests are usually built 15 or 20 feet high in a tree, although on rare occasions a nest is made on the ground.
The female lays between 4 and 6 eggs, which are then incubated by both the male and female for approximately 18 days. The young are cared for in the nest for a month before they are ready to leave the nest and feed with the adults. The family unit stays together during the summer and joins other families as the fall approaches.
POSSIBLE CONFLICTS & SOLUTIONS
Common problems regarding crows include: noise, and damage to gardens, agricultural crops, and trash. Crows are also known to bully other birds at feeders and prey on nestlings belonging to other birds. However, most people encounter these intelligent animals in their yards or neighborhoods and they don’t cause any problems.
If you are experiencing a problem with crows getting into and making a mess of your garbage, know that crows usually feed during the day. If you garbage is being raided at night, you are probably dealing with other animals.
If you see crows raiding your garbage, the following are humane solutions:
- Contain all loose garbage and garbage bags.
- Use trash containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Use bungee cords to secure loose lids.
- Store garbage inside between collection days.
- Put garbage out only on the day of collection.
If you are experiencing a problem with crows gathering in your yard, the following are humane solutions:
- Using noisemakers and distress calls.
- Install bright lights on motion sensors.
- Install a motion sensor on your garden hose.
- Affix scarecrows and mylar balloons throughout your yard.
Go to our humane exclusion resources page to find vendors that sell the items and tools listed above.
PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS
The most important public health concern associated with crows is the accumulation of fecal droppings at roosts. The CDC defines Histoplasmosis as an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings. There are five forms of histoplasmosis that are clinically recognizable, ranging from a mild hypersensitivity to a disease that mimics chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. Children and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to the disease and if contact is suspected they should seek immediate medical care.
MSPCA CROW FACT SHEET pdf