Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)


French: Corneille noire German: Rabenkrähe Spanish: Corneja negra

Corvus Corone


, 1758,



Sister to C. pectoralis. Groups arranged here commonly considered to form two species, the first composed of nominate and (disjunct) orientalis, the second of cornix, sharpii, pallescens and capellanus. Second group differs from first in its grey vs black body (3) and narrow hybrid zones (with both nominate and orientalis) (2); but “subtle differences in vocalizations” mentioned in HBW not confirmed. Hybridization apparently inhibited by sexual and social imprinting#R#R, but genetic differences slight and gene flow strong#R#R#R, with German corone closer to cornix than to Spanish corone#R. Phylogenetic evidence further suggests that C. pectoralis belongs with this species#R; further research needed. Within extensive range of E populations (orientalis) cline of increasing bill size from W to E has led to three further races being described: interpositus (Japan), saghalensis (Sakhalin) and yunnanensis (S Yunnan, in China), all here regarded as synonyms of orientalis. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. corone Linnaeus, 1758 – Carrion Crow – Britain (except N Scotland), France, Spain and Portugal E to Denmark, W Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, N Italy and Switzerland; many C European birds disperse S & W in winter, reaching Corsica, Sardinia and SE Europe.
  • C. c. cornix Linnaeus, 1758 – Hooded Crow – Faroe Is, N Scotland, Ireland and I of Man E throughout Fennoscandia and W Russia to Urals, S in Europe to Hungary and NW Romania, N Balkans, N Italy and Corsica; some N birds move S or SW in winter, reaching as far as W France.
  • C. c. sharpii Oates, 1889 – Urals E in Siberia to R Yenisey, C Asia, Iran, Turkey (except S), from Caucasus W through S Ukraine and Romania to S Balkans, Crete and S Italy (including Sardinia and Sicily); N populations migrate S to as far as Afghanistan.
  • C. c. pallescens (Madarász, 1904) – Cyprus, S Turkey E to N Iraq, S to Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
  • C. c. capellanus P. L. Sclater, 1877 – Euphrates Valley of lowland Iraq (reaching N to Kirkuk) and E into SW Iran (as far as Bushire).
  • C. c. orientalis Eversmann, 1841 – from C Siberia (Russia) and N Mongolia from R Yenisey E (N to N limit of taiga) to Kamchatka, Kuril Is and Sakhalin, and from C Kazakhstan, E Turkmenistan, NE Afghanistan and extreme NW Indian Subcontinent E through Tien Shan and across N China (S to N Qinghai, N Sichuan and Hebei) E to Japan (S to Kyushu); N populations migrate S to S & SE China, also S to NE Iran, Baluchistan and N Pakistan (North-West Frontier Province) in winter.
  • Descriptive notes

    48–53 cm; 396–602 g. A rather compact archetypal crow with relatively flat crown running onto slightly arched culmen. Plumage is wholly black, greenish hue on... read more


    Typical call a flat, dry "aaaah" or "kraaah", repeated on same pitch c. 3... read more


    Inhabits a huge variety of open country, preferably with at least scattered trees. Favours mixed... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous, but chiefly a carnivorous scavenger. Diet varies according to local habitats, but consists basically of invertebrates,... read more


    Season commences late Mar in Britain, peak egg-laying mid-Apr, and dates similar in W Europe overall; E race orientalis more... read more


    Nominate race basically resident, although birds from interior of Continental Europe show tendency... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). European nominate race abundant, with population of 2,000,000–3,000,000 pairs: Britain 790,000 (spreading N, now in C Scotland... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Carrion Crow (Corvus corone). 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 28 January 2020).