Last Reviewed and Updated on January 25, 2023
The phrase “bird brain” certainly didn’t come from crows; these sneaky smart birds have many peculiar traits that amaze researchers around the globe. Learn some of the most interesting facts about crows, from their impressive abilities to why you might just start giving them food.
Crow is a common name for a group of birds that belong to the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. There are several species of crows, including the American crow, the northwestern crow, and the hooded crow. There are about 45 corvid species.
They can be found in various environments worldwide, including forests, fields, and urban areas. They are highly adaptable.
Crows are typically are medium large, black, or mostly black birds with glossy feathers and a distinctive, strong bill. They are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities.
Their diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, seeds, and small invertebrates. They are also known to feed on carrion and garbage in urban areas.
Facts About Crows
Are you ready to be impressed with these birds? Here are some mind-blowing facts about crows.
1. Crows are very intelligent
Crows are one of the most intelligent animals; some studies even place their intelligence level on par with that of a seven-year-old child, which is much more than most animals.
They are also one of the few animals considered to be highly conscious, meaning they have subjective awareness and responses to their surroundings and body in a similar (but not the same) way we do.
2. Some crows have been observed using tools
Tool use has been observed in many animals, and many crow species have been observed using tools. Using twigs as spears and hooks to get their food isn’t a challenge for a crow.
3. They have also been observed making tools
When it comes to tool use, crows can take things further. A study showed New Caledonian crows are able to figure out how to construct compound tools, combining small useless pieces into a functioning tool they can use. This ability was only observed in non-human primates (and crows matched and exceeded their skills).
4. Crows are often observed playing
These birds are very playful. From aerial acrobatics with their fellow crows, through hiding and finding inedible objects, to snowboarding on lids down the snowy roofs. When it comes to playing, crows really are imaginative.
5. Their brain size to body ratio is comparative to that of great apes
They are smart, and they have big brains to back it up. While larger brain size alone doesn’t automatically mean more intelligence, it is a piece of the puzzle. The brain-to-body ratio of a crow’s brain is comparable to that of great apes.
6. They store food in caches to grab it later
Another wonderful behavior showcasing their intelligence is how they store their food for later. They hide their food in trees, rain gutters, or other suitable spots or even bury it in the ground and cover it with grass or leaves. When hungry, a crow will retrieve the food from the cache.
7. Crows use roads and cars to crack open nuts
If crows live near you, you probably already observed this wonderful behavior. A crow will drop a nut on the road, preferably at a crossroad with a traffic light. They will either drop the nut from a height that will crack it or for the car to run over the nut and crack it open. Once safe, the crow will retrieve the cracked nut.
Crows learned that dropping the nut from the high ground onto a hard surface will crack it open.
8. They have “funerals”
Another peculiar behavior crows exhibit is crow funerals. While they (probably) don’t mourn the dead member of their bird family, a large group may surround it and examine it. Other crows will try and learn about the dangers that led to the death of the crow.
9. Crows can recognize human faces
These birds are able to memorize human faces. They will avoid people that proved dangerous and warn other crows about people to avoid.
10. Scarecrows aren’t effective at keeping the crows away
One of the most fun facts about crows is related to scarecrows. While the name scarecrow suggests it should scare off crows, it’s not really effective. It will work for a while, but crows are fast to figure out when something doesn’t pose a real danger to them.
11. You can get gifts from crows
Crows remember faces and not just the bad ones. If you leave food for crows, there is a chance a crow will start bringing you thank-you gifts – people have been receiving objects ranging from rubber bands to jewelry.
12. American crows use ants as a bug repellent
This behavior is called anting. Birds rub insects (usually ants) on their feathers.
13. Crows mostly mate for life
Most crows will find one perfect partner and will mate for life. But being partners for life doesn’t always mean being faithful for life. They will stay with their social partners until death but can mate with other crows.
14. They may have regional dialects
While their vocalization isn’t exactly music to the ears, crows are songbirds, and like many other songbirds, they can have regional dialects. A group of crows in one region may have a different vocalization than a group in another.
15. Crows are very social
Crows are very social and family-oriented birds.