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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

The carrion crow was, until recently, considered to be a race of the same species as the hooded crow (Corvus cornix), but it is now recognised as a separate species (7). It is the same size and shape as the hooded crow, but differs in that the plumage is entirely black, with a green and bluish-purplish gloss (2). The thick black bill has a curved tip (2). Vocalisations are croaky and harsh, and somewhat 'harder' than those of the hooded crow (2); the name 'crow' is imitative of their calls (5).
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Biology

Carrion crows have a broad diet, including carcasses, eggs, insects, small vertebrates, molluscs, and even vegetables and grains in winter (4). They bury food for later consumption, and occasionally drop certain food items with hard shells, such as crabs and nuts, from a height in order to obtain the food inside (6). This crow starts to breed at three years of age. Pairs, once formed, last for life. Courtship involves mutual preening, and a rapid head-bowing display by the male (6). Breeding pairs are very territorial, and create solitary nests in trees, bushes or on cliffs (6). The nest consists of thick branches and twigs intertwined with pegs, rags, paper, bones and other odd objects, held together with mud and dung and lined with wool, hair and grass (6). Four to five bluish-green, speckled eggs are laid in April, and are incubated by the female for up to 20 days. During this time, the male brings food to his mate on the nest. In the early part of their life, chicks are fed on regurgitated food by the female. Both parents then provision them with worms and maggots, progressing to various types of meat at a later stage (6). The young will have usually fledged after 35 days, but stay close to their parents for some time (6). In winter large communal roosts of carrion crows can occur (6). This species displays behaviour known as 'anting'; individuals allow ants to crawl over their body, adopting unusual prone postures. They are also known to have a strange interest with fire, and have been seen carrying burning material to the nest, and then displaying unusual behaviour (6).
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Comprehensive Description

Description of Corvus corone

De \'\'zwarte kraai\'\' (\'Corvus corone\') is een grote zangvogel die algemeen voorkomt in de Benelux. ==Uiterlijk== Een volwassen kraai is ongeveer 48 cm lang en weegt ongeveer 550 gram. Kraaien zijn groter dan kauwen en in tegenstelling tot de laatste helemaal zwart, vaak met een wat groenige glans over de veren. Van de ongeveer even grote roeken zijn ze te onderscheiden doordat de laatsten een kaal stuk huid aan de basis van de snavel hebben, waardoor de snavel langer lijkt. Een roeksnavel is ook lichter van kleur dan de gitzwarte kraaiensnavel.  Zwarte Kraaien 46 cm. Verenkleed geheel zwart, hetgeen het enige verschil is met Bonte Kraai. Te onderscheiden van veel grotere Raaf door geluid, rechte staart en gladde keel, en van juveniele Roek door zwaardere, minder puntige snavel en ontbreken van \'broek\'. Gewoonlijk alleen of in paren, behalve op slaapplaats. Opent hard voedsel (bijvoorbeeld krabben of noten) door het van enige hoogte naar beneden te laten vallen. Gewone roep een krassend \'kraah\'.
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Distribution

Range

Occurs throughout Great Britain, south of the Great Glen in northern Scotland (7). There are two main populations globally; one is distributed throughout most of Asia, the second occurs in western Europe (4). Where the distributions of carrion and hooded crows meet, there is a zone where interbreeding takes place and hybrids occur, which have intermediate plumage (4). In Great Britain, these hybrids occur in a band roughly between Aberdeen and Glasgow (4).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 39 specimens in 3 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 15 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 7.710 - 9.671
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.075 - 5.900
  Salinity (PPS): 6.428 - 35.082
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.368 - 8.179
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.231 - 0.507
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.963 - 12.889

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 7.710 - 9.671

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.075 - 5.900

Salinity (PPS): 6.428 - 35.082

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.368 - 8.179

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.231 - 0.507

Silicate (umol/l): 1.963 - 12.889
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Occupies an extremely broad range of habitats (4).
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Associations

Known prey organisms

Corvus corone (Corvus corone crow) preys on:
Crangon crangon
Hydrobia ulvae
Littorina saxatilis
Mytilus edulis

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 19 years
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Corvus corone

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 15 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGTACCGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCAGGCGCTCTGCTAGGAGACGACCAAATCTATAATGTAATCGTCACAGCCCACGCTTTCGTCATAATTTTCTTTATAGTGATACCTATCATAATCGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCTCTAATGATCGGCGCCCCGGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAATATAAGCTTCTGACTCCTCCCACCCTCATTCCTTCTCCTTCTAGCCTCTTCCACAGTAGAAGCAGGAGCAGGAACAGGATGAACTGTGTACCCACCACTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTAGCCATCTTCTCACTACACCTAGCAGGTATTTCCTCCATCCTAGGGGCAATTAACTTCATCACTACAGCAATTAACATAAAACCCCCAGCCCTATCACAATACCAAACCCCTCTATTCGTATGATCTGTACTAATTACCGCAGTACTACTCCTTCTCTCCCTACCTGTACTTGCTGCCGGAATTACTATGCTCCTAACAGACCGTAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGATCCAGCAGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTACTATACCAACATCTATTCTGATTCTTTGGACACCCAGAAGTTTATATCCTAATTCTA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Corvus corone

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 17
Specimens with Barcodes: 27
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Status in Egypt

Resident breeder.

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Status

Receives general protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (3), but can be trapped, shot or their eggs and nests destroyed under the terms of General Licences issued by government (7). Included in the Birds of Conservation Concern Green List (low conservation concern) (8).
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Population

Population
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 7,000,000-17,000,000 breeding pairs, equating to 21,000,000-51,000,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 42,900,000-204,000,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. National population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in China; possibly c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Korea and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Carrion crows are perceived as a threat to livestock, as they are believed to kill and injure young lambs and trapped sheep (4). Although they do cause some problems of this nature, the perception is greater than the reality (4), and they have been persecuted as a result for many hundreds of years.
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Management

Conservation

No conservation action has been targeted at this species.
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Wikipedia

Carrion crow

The carrion crow (Corvus corone) is a member of the passerine order of birds and the crow family which is native to western Europe and eastern Asia.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The carrion crow was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae and it still bears its original name of Corvus corone.[2] The binomial name is derived from the Latin Corvus, "Raven",[3] and Greek korone/κορωνη, "crow".[4]

As well as the subspecies of the hooded crow being split off as a separate species, there is some discussion whether the Eastern carrion crow (C. c. orientalis) is distinct enough to warrant specific status; the two taxa are well separated, and it has been proposed they could have evolved independently in the wetter, maritime regions at the opposite ends of the Eurasian landmass.[5]

Description[edit]

The plumage of carrion crow is black with a green or purple sheen, much greener than the gloss of the rook. The bill, legs and feet are also black. It can be distinguished from the common raven by its size (48–52 cm or 18 to 21 inches in length as compared to an average of 63 centimetres (25 inches) for ravens) and from the hooded crow by its black plumage, but there is frequent confusion between it and the rook. The beak of the crow is stouter and in consequence looks shorter, and whereas in the adult rook the nostrils are bare, those of the crow are covered at all ages with bristle-like feathers.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species breeds in western and central Europe, with an allied form or race C. c. orientalis (50–56 cm or 19 to 22 inches in length) occurring in eastern Asia. The separation of these two populations is now believed to have taken place during the last ice age, with the closely allied hooded crow (now given species status) filling the gap between. Fertile hybrids occur along the boundary between these two forms indicating their close genetic relationship,[6] and most carrion crow populations show sign of extensive gene flow from hooded crow (a genomic region involving pigmentation and linked traits is maintained strongly different between the two crows however).[7] This is an example of the parapatric speciation model described by Ernst Mayr. The range of this hybrid of these two species appears to be moving to the northwest.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

In Southend-on-Sea, England
In flight
Scavenging around a dead bird in Paris, France

The rook is generally gregarious and the crow solitary, but rooks occasionally nest in isolated trees, and crows may feed with rooks; moreover, crows are often sociable in winter roosts. The most distinctive feature is the voice. The rook has a high-pitched kaaa, but the crow's guttural, slightly vibrant, deeper croaked kraa is distinct from any note of the rook.[citation needed]

The carrion crow is noisy, perching on the top of a tree and calling three or four times in quick succession, with a slight pause between each series of croaks. The wing-beats are slower, more deliberate than those of the rook.[citation needed]

Like all corvids, carrion crows are highly intelligent, and are among the most intelligent of all animals.[8]

Diet[edit]

Though an eater of carrion of all kinds, the carrion crow will eat insects, earthworms, grain, small mammals, amphibians, scraps and will also steal eggs. Crows are scavengers by nature, which is why they tend to frequent sites inhabited by humans in order to feed on their household waste. Crows will also harass birds of prey or even foxes for their kills. Crows actively hunt and occasionally co-operate with other crows to make kills.

Crows have become highly skilled at adapting to urban environments. In a Japanese city, carrion crows have discovered how to eat nuts that they usually find too hard to tackle. One method is to drop the nuts from height on to a hard road in the hope of cracking it. Some nuts are particularly tough, so the crows drop the nuts among the traffic. That leaves the problem of eating the bits without getting run over, so some birds wait by pedestrian crossings and collect the cracked nuts when the lights turn red.[9]

Nesting[edit]

The bulky stick nest is usually placed in a tall tree, but cliff ledges, old buildings and pylons may be used as well. Nests are also occasionally placed on or near the ground. The nest resembles that of the common raven, but is less bulky. The 3 to 4 brown-speckled blue or greenish eggs are incubated for 18–20 days by the female alone, who is fed by the male. The young fledge after 29–30 days.[10]

It is not uncommon for an offspring from the previous years to stay around and help rear the new hatchlings.[citation needed] Instead of seeking out a mate, it looks for food and assists the parents in feeding the young.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Corvus corone". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). p. 105. "C. atro-caerulescens, cauda rotundata: rectricibus acutis." 
  3. ^ "Corvus". Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  4. ^ Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4. 
  5. ^ Madge, Steve & Burn, Hilary (1994): Crows and jays: a guide to the crows, jays and magpies of the world. A&C Black, London. ISBN 0-7136-3999-7
  6. ^ Parkin, David T. (2003). "Birding and DNA: species for the new millennium". Bird Study 50 (3): 223–242. doi:10.1080/00063650309461316. 
  7. ^ Poelstra, J. W.; Vijay, N.; Bossu, C. M.; Lantz, H.; Ryll, B.; Muller, I.; Baglione, V.; Unneberg, P.; Wikelski, M.; Grabherr, M. G.; Wolf, J. B. W. (2014). "The genomic landscape underlying phenotypic integrity in the face of gene flow in crows". Science 344 (6190): 1410. doi:10.1126/science.1253226. PMID 24948738.  edit
  8. ^ Prior H. et al. (2008). "Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition". In De Waal, Frans. PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science) 6 (8): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202. PMC 2517622. PMID 18715117. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  9. ^ "Red Light Runners". BBC. 2007. 
  10. ^ British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data.
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