The Carrion Crow, Corvus corone

Carrion crows belong to the Corvidae family of the Order Passeriformes, and placed in the genus Corvus {Latin for Raven} It has been given the specific name of corone from the Greek korone meaning a crow.

The plumage of this species is entirely black, with a few or no metallic sheens, or if they do occur they are a dull green colour. The feathers on the throat being small and narrow and the webs, towards their points loose and flocculent, and the tail not so rounded as that of the Raven.

The bird,  I suppose,  has traits more akin to the raven than any other member of the family, thus it might be mistaken as a miniature of that bird with the exception of the gloss of blue on the upper part of the true raven. 

Carrion crows are 46 cm long with a wingspan of 98 cm and weigh 510 g. In relationship to their body size the wings are medium long, the tail medium, the neck short,bill medium stout black, legs short and black. Movement---The flight is rather heavy and laboured. It walks and sidles with ungainly hops. It has a bold, upright stance and a confident striding walk which is characteristic of this crow.                                

Image courtesy of Aomorikuma CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

General characteristics.

The Carrion crow as the name implies is a carrion eater, nothing no matter how rank or foul is past over. It will scavenge on rubbish tips, and eat almost anything that is edible to them. In the past they were known as " dung hill crows" and in Scotland and northern England as the "midden crow" and throughout much of England simply the crow.

The carrion crow seems to combine the dispositions of 2-3 other species of the genus. In form and colour and in its predatory habits it resembles the raven { see  Corviadae click on the content banner on the right hand-side of this page}. In restlessness and its habit of hoarding it has considerable traits of the Jackdaw {see Jackdaw} and in the manner it takes eggs and nestlings  of other birds it has the traits of the magpie { see magpie}.

Beyond being a much more solitary bird the carrion crow may be distinguished from the Rook by the following means, the flight is heavier, the crow utters deep sounding "caws" only one at a time. The rook has a bald patch of grey coloured skin at the base of the bill, whereas the carrion crow is feathered right down to the base. The crow moves around in small companies of a few individuals, in winter they are solitary or in pairs. Rooks move around in much larger flocks and are much more sociable.

The common crow has some of the jackdaws traits. The jackdaw is the smallest member of the family.   {Dal}

Breeding and Young.

The large nest is constructed in a similar manner to that of the rook, which may well be used year after year, subject to structural repair each spring. it is usually placed in a tall tree in a secluded wood, plantation or rocky cliff. Sticks, weeds, mud ,clay, leaves, grass, wood, hair and feathers are used.

Three to four eggs form the clutch which are laid in March in the south of the country or during April and May in the more northern regions.The incubation which is undertaken by the female and takes 18-20 days. They fledge at 29-30 days. One brood is raised per season. 

The habitat of the carrion crow can be almost anywhere they are diverse and widespread  although in the northerly regions it is overlapped or succeeded by the Hooded Crow. Carrion crows occur in Ireland but the dominant species there is the hooded crow. 

Hooded crow Image courtesy of Andreas Elchier CC BY-SA 4.0 License

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Conservation Issues

Carrion crows are on the Green List of Conservation Concern and there are no current concerns. They are common and widespread and the long term trend in the UK is a rapid increase. In 1990 there was an estimated 790,000 territories and this had increased to 987,000 pairs in 2000. They are resident breeders. They also occur in western Europe and central Asia.

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Conservation Status -UK-2021

UK. Green List of Conservation concern No current issues.

Europe.-Species of least concern. 

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Corvidae featuring the raven.



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