Birds – The Common Crow

(Corvus Americanus)

Called also : CORN THIEF

Length—16 to 17.50 inches.

Male—Glossy black with violet reflections. Wings appear sawtoothed when spread, and almost equal the tail in length.

Female—Like male, except that the black is less brilliant.

Range—Throughout North America, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

Migrations—March. October. Summer and winter resident.

If we have an eye for the picturesque, we place a certain value upon the broad, strong dash of color in the landscape, given by a flock of crows flapping their course above a corn-field, against an October sky ; but the practical eye of the farmer looks only for his gun in such a case. To him the crow is an unmitigated nuisance, all the more maddening because it is clever enough to circumvent every means devised for its ruin. Nothing escapes its rapacity ; fear is unknown to it. It migrates in broad day-light, chooses the most conspicuous perches, and yet its assurance is amply justified in its steadily increasing numbers.

In the very early spring, note well the friendly way in which the crow follows the plow, ingratiating itself by eating the larvae, field mice, and worms upturned in the furrows, for this is its one serviceable act throughout the year. When the first brood of chickens is hatched, its serious depredations begin. Not only the farmer’s young fledglings, ducks, turkeys, and chicks, are snatched up and devoured, but the nests of song birds are made desolate, eggs being crushed and eaten on the spot, when there are no birds to carry off to the rickety, coarse nest in the high tree top in the woods. The fish crow, however, is the much greater enemy of the birds. Like the common crows, this, their smaller cousin, likes to congregate in winter along the seacoast to feed upon shellfish and other seafood that the tide brings to its feet.

Samuels claims to have seen a pair of crows visit an orchard and destroy the young in two robins’ nests in half an hour. He calculates that two crows kill, in one day alone, young birds that in the course of the season would have eaten a hundred thousand insects. When, in addition to these atrocities, we remember the crow’s depredations in the corn-field, it is small wonder that among the first laws enacted in New York State was one offering a reward for its head. But the more scientific agriculturists now concede that the crow is the farmer’s true friend.