House Crows (Corvus splendens) are very abundant throughout their native range in South Asia, as well as in much of their introduced range (see below), although concerns about impacts on local ecosystems and agriculture and possible threats to human health have led to systematic control efforts in some parts of the non-native range. Wherever there are human settlements in the (mainly) lowlands of the Indian subcontinent, from small villages to large cities, House Crows are there, scavenging food of all kinds wherever they can find it. The House Crow is among the most familiar and conspicuous of Indian birds.
The native range of the House Crow is South Asia, extending throughout Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka, including the Maldive and Laccadive Islands, and the Himalayan foothills of Nepal and Bhutan eastward through Burma to extreme southern China (Yunnan). It occurred historically in southwestern Thailand. House Crows have been introduced (in some cases intentionally, but mainly by hitchiking on ships) widely around the Indian Ocean and beyond. Colonies have been established in the Middle East in Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, and Israel; in East Africa, in Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique; on Indian Ocean islands, including the Seychelles and Mauritius; and in Southeast Asia, on the Andaman Islands, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and possibly Sumatra and northern Borneo. Over the years, presumed ship-transported individuals have shown up in Australia, Hong Kong (where the species may now be established), Japan, the United States (New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida), Gibralter, Morocco, France, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Chile.
(Madge and Burn 1994 and references therein; dos Anjos 2009 and references therein)
Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Corvus splendens
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Status in Egypt
The house crow (Corvus splendens), also known as the Indian, greynecked, Ceylon or Colombo crow, is a common bird of the crow family that is of Asian origin but now found in many parts of the world, where they arrived assisted by shipping. It is between the jackdaw and the carrion crow in size (40 cm (16 in) in length) but is slimmer than either. The forehead, crown, throat and upper breast are a richly glossed black, whilst the neck and breast are a lighter grey-brown in colour. The wings, tail and legs are black. There are regional variations in the thickness of the bill and the depth of colour in areas of the plumage.
The nominate race C. s. splendens is found in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh and has a grey neck collar. The subspecies C. s. zugmayeri is found in the dry parts of South Asia and Iran and has a very pale neck collar. The subspecies C. s. protegatus is found in southern India, the Maldives (sometimes separated as maledivicus) and Sri Lanka and is darker grey. C. s. insolens, found in Myanmar, is the darkest form and lacks the grey collar.
Distribution and habitat
It has a widespread distribution in southern Asia, being native to Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Laccadive Islands, South West Thailand and coastal southern Iran. It has been introduced to East Africa around Zanzibar (around 1897) and Port Sudan. It arrived in Australia via ship but has up to now been exterminated. Recently, it has made its arrival in Europe and has been breeding in the Hook of Holland since 1998. An individual has been present in Cork Harbour on the south coast of Ireland since early September 2010.
It is associated with human settlements throughout its range, from small villages to large cities. In Singapore, there was a density of 190 birds/km2 in 2001 with efforts to suppress the population in planning.
Due to a human population explosion in the areas it inhabits, this species has also proportionately multiplied. Being an omnivorous scavenger has enabled it to thrive in such circumstances.
The invasive potential for the species is great all over the tropics. This species is able to make use of resources with great flexibility and appears to be associated with humans, and no populations are known to exist independently of humans.
House crows feed largely on refuse around human habitations, small reptiles, and other animals such as insects and other small invertebrates, eggs, nestlings, grain and fruits. House crows have also been observed swooping down from the air and snatching baby squirrels. Most food is taken from the ground, but also from trees as opportunity arises. They are highly opportunistic birds and given their omnivorous diet, they can survive on nearly anything that is edible. These birds can be seen near marketplaces and garbage dumps, foraging for scraps. They have also been observed to eat sand after feeding on carcass.
At least some trees in the local environment seem to be necessary for successful breeding although house crows occasionally nest on telephone towers. It lays 3–5 eggs in a typical stick nest, and occasionally there are several nests in the same tree. In South Asia they are parasitized by the Asian koel. Peak breeding in India as well as Peninsular Malaysia is from April to July. Large trees with big crowns are preferred for nesting.
House crows roost communally near human habitations and often over busy streets. A study in Singapore found that the preferred roost sites were in well-lit areas with a lot of human activity, close to food sources and in tall trees with dense crowns that were separated from other trees. The roost sites were often enclosed by tall buildings.
The voice is a harsh kaaa-kaaa.
Relationship to humans
It is suspected that paramyxoviruses, such as PMV 1 that causes of Newcastle disease may be spread by Corvus splendens. Outbreaks of Newcastle disease in India were often preceded by mortality in crows. They have also been found to carry Cryptococcus neoformans, which can cause cryptococcosis in humans.
Collecting twigs for building nest, Central Park (Kolkata)
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- Soh MCK, NS Sodhi, RKH Seoh, BW Brook (2002) Nest site selection of the house crow (Corvus splendens), an urban invasive bird species in Singapore and implications for its management. Landscape and Urban planning 59:217-226
- Kelvin S.-H. Peh and Navjot S. Sodhi (2002) Characteristics of Nocturnal Roosts of House Crows in Singapore. The Journal of Wildlife Management 66(4):1128-1133
- Roy, P., Venugopalan, A.T., Manvell, R. 1998 Isolation of Newcastle disease virus from an Indian house crow. Tropical animal health and production 30 (3):177-178
- Blount, W.P. (1949). Diseases of Poultry. (London, Balliere, Tindall and Cox).
- S. Gokulshankar, S. Ranganathan, M. S. Ranjith and A. J. A. Ranjithsingh (2004) Prevalence, serotypes and mating patterns of Cryptococcus neoformans in the pellets of different avifauna in Madras, India. Mycoses, 47:310–314
- Dirie, M.F., Ashford, R.W., Mungomba, L.M., Molyneux, D.H. & Green, E.E. (1990). Avian trypanosomes in Simulium and sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus). Parasitology, 101,243-247.