Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
Perhaps no bird is easier to recognize than the all-black American Crow. They are a common sight throughout Oklahoma. I often see them in trees, fields, and even my local Wal-Mart parking lot. They usually feed on the ground and will eat almost anything including garbage, insects, seeds, frogs, carrion, and fruit.
American Crow in Bartlesville field having an early breakfast
American Crows are very social animals and are usually found in groups.
The American Crow's most common call is its loud "caw caw", but they can also mimic the voices of other animals including humans. I have heard several crows say "Hello", and one very clearly saying "I want to fly". It is illegal to keep crows as pets, but they are very trainable, loyal, curious, fearless, and highly intelligent, and people who have raised them say they are great companions though they do not like being placed in a cage. It is actually not uncommon for a wild crow to become comfortable enough with a human that a lifelong bond of friendship is formed. In many of these cases the crow will come in the person's house for food and visit, and wait on a particular tree in the morning to greet their friend when they come outside.
American Crows store excess food and can sometimes be seen burying it on the ground or hiding it in a tree hole.
This American Crow greeted me with a "caw caw caw" as I approached to photograph him
One American Crow lived almost 30 years, and many live longer than a decade.
American Crows are all black, even their legs and bill, but when they molt, their old feathers often look brown. Males and females look identical.