Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)


French: Corneille d’Amérique German: Amerikakrähe Spanish: Cuervo americano

Corvus brachyrhynchos

C. L. Brehm

, 1822,

North America = vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Recent genetic studies#R#R suggest that this species may be sister to C. caurinus, the pair being closest to C. corone and C. pectoralis. Present species and C. caurinus may well now be a single species owing to former’s genetic swamping of latter, probably accelerated by its NW range expansion (now extending N to Hyder, in Alaska), facilitated by development of formerly densely forested NW Pacific coast. No distinct boundary between nominate race and hesperis is apparent, and individuals of this species found N into SE Alaska and E to C Alberta, C Saskatchewan, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico may include hesperis. Geographical variation largely clinal: in S USA, proposed races paulus (Alabama) and hargravei (Great Basin) synonymized with nominate. Known to hybridize in wild with C. corax. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. brachyrhynchos C. L. Brehm, 1822 – S Canada from SW Northwest Territories E to Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, and S throughout Midwest and E USA to at least NW Florida and Gulf of Mexico; expanding W through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and C Arizona.
  • C. b. hesperis Ridgway, 1887 – SW Canada (interior British Columbia) S in W USA to Washington, N Idaho, Oregon and California, and extreme NW Mexico (extreme NW Baja California).
  • C. b. pascuus Coues, 1899 – peninsular Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    43–53 cm; 250–575 g. A moderately sized crow rarely found far from humans. Plumage is all black with iridescent purple sheen, especially on back and wings; iris... read more


    Large repertoire of more than 30 vocalizations (variously patterned, modulated and graded caws,... read more


    Common in human-dominated landscapes from core of large cities (where may nest on buildings) to... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous, typically foraging on ground for invertebrates, notably earthworms (Lumbricidae), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), moth and butterfly... read more


    Nest-building from Feb to early Jun (1–2 months earlier than C. ossifragus where sympatric), progressively later from S to N... read more


    Migrates from N parts range, upper elevations, and drier, seasonal agricultural sites (e.g. E... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common. Density variable; non-migratory crows occupy areas of up to 1000 ha or more throughout year, some defending exclusive... read more

    Recommended citation

    Marzluff, J. (2019). American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 May 2019).