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What Are the Different Types of Crows?

A. Delgado
A. Delgado

The different types of crows can be grouped into four categories. The term "crow" refers to members of the Corvus genus, known as corvids, and includes crows, ravens, rooks and jackdaws. Although all of these species are primarily black, there are some differences that differentiate them from each other. Crows are found throughout the world and often live near humans or in wooded areas nearby.

The crow group includes species such as the American crow, fish crow and northwestern crow. The American crow is one of the most recognized crow species. They live in several parts of the United States, primarily in residential areas. American crows generally nest in evergreen trees and forage for insects, seeds, mice, nuts and carrion at sites such as landfills, farmlands, parks and backyards. They have short, square tails, straight beaks and are entirely black.

A raven (Corvus corax).
A raven (Corvus corax).

Common ravens are the most widely distributed raven species. Ravens are also completely black in color, although they are bigger than crows and have puffy feathers around their throat and a thicker beak. Ravens live throughout the northern hemisphere in several different habitats, including mountains, forests, beaches and grasslands. They tend to be solitary or live in pairs, unlike the more social American crows. Ravens eat insects, fish, eggs, baby tortoises and garbage.

An American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).
An American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

Crows and ravens are known for being highly intelligent. They can understand cause and effect, and often use tools that they make themselves. They are also very playful and mischievous and can be trained to mimic calls or perform tricks when kept as pets.

Jackdaws are highly social birds found in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. Unlike crows and ravens, jackdaws have light eyes and gray feathers on their head, neck and chest. The rest of their bodies are covered with black feathers. They are also smaller and have shorter beaks. Jackdaws inhabit woodlands, pastures and parks, feeding on seeds, insects, snails, spiders and garbage.

American crows generally nest in evergreen trees and forage for insects, seeds, mice, nuts and carrion at sites such as farmlands.
American crows generally nest in evergreen trees and forage for insects, seeds, mice, nuts and carrion at sites such as farmlands.

Rooks live in parts of northern and central Europe, as well as Asia. Although they are mostly black, they differ from crows, ravens and jackdaws in that they have pale, grayish skin around their beaks. Their leg feathers also have a more ruffled appearance than other crow species. Rooks are found in open fields and the outskirts of residential areas, where they feed on worms, insects, grains, small birds and carrion. Rooks are very social and travel in large flocks that sometimes include jackdaws.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many different types of crows are there?

Crows are covered in black feathers.
Crows are covered in black feathers.

There are over 40 species of crows, according to the International Ornithological Congress. These species are spread across the genus Corvus, which is known for its intelligence and adaptability. The exact number can vary as taxonomic classifications are updated based on new research.

What are some common characteristics of crows?

Crows are medium to large-sized birds with strong bills, and most species have glossy black feathers. They are highly intelligent, with some species capable of using tools and recognizing human faces. Crows are also social creatures, often forming large flocks, and their vocalizations can be complex and varied.

Can crows be found in different environments?

Yes, crows are incredibly adaptable and can be found in a wide range of environments. They thrive in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Some species, like the American Crow, are widespread across North America, while others have more restricted ranges or specific habitat preferences, such as the forest-dwelling Hooded Crow.

What is the difference between a crow and a raven?

Crows and ravens are both part of the Corvus genus but differ in size, behavior, and vocalizations. Ravens are larger, have a more robust build, a thicker beak, and a shaggier appearance around the throat. Their calls are deeper and more resonant compared to the higher-pitched caw of crows. Behaviorally, ravens are more solitary or found in pairs, while crows are more often seen in larger groups.

Are crows protected by any conservation laws?

Crows are protected under various national and international laws. In the United States, for example, crows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to harm or capture crows without a permit. Conservation statuses can vary by species and region, with some crow species classified as 'Least Concern' and others having more vulnerable statuses.

Do crows play any significant role in ecosystems?

Crows play a crucial role in ecosystems as both scavengers and predators. They help in cleaning up carrion and waste, which prevents the spread of disease. Additionally, they can impact populations of smaller animals and insects through predation. Their intelligence also allows them to adapt quickly to changes in their environment, making them key indicators of ecological health.

Discussion Comments


Crows are extremely intelligent. Don't tick them off.


Does anyone have any good suggestions about getting rid of crows in your yard?

I live in the Midwest and have way too many crows in my yard and garden. They are so loud and obnoxious and I would like to get them out of my yard.

Last year I even put a couple of scarecrows outside hoping this would deter some of them, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

I think I would be able to attract more songbirds if I didn't have so many crows around, but haven't found a good way to get rid of them yet.


Ever since I was a young boy I have been fascinated by crows. There seemed to be a lot of them in the town where I grew up but I credit my grandfather with sparking my interest in these amazing birds.

He had a stuffed crow that he had named Gus in his den. It was displayed prominently and he made a point of pointing it out to all his visitors. The crow was frozen in time with its beak open and pointed to the sky as if it was making that shrill crow squawk. As a kid I would just sit and stare at it as if it had come from another planet.

After my grandfather died Gus got thrown out. But I have read a number of books about crows and even on a few occasions tried to encourage them onto my property. I know lots of people think they look creepy and morbid. I think they are beautiful.


I live in Arizona and we seem to have a shocking number of crows. Its like you can't look up into the sky without seeing one.

Before I moved out here I had no idea that crows even lived in the desert. I figured with all those black feathers a punishing sun was probably not the best habitat. But they seem to thrive in this climate and I have even had to shoo them out of my yard on a few occasions.

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    • A raven (Corvus corax).
      By: David Thyberg
      A raven (Corvus corax).
    • An American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).
      By: Al Mueller
      An American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).
    • American crows generally nest in evergreen trees and forage for insects, seeds, mice, nuts and carrion at sites such as farmlands.
      By: njr_2011
      American crows generally nest in evergreen trees and forage for insects, seeds, mice, nuts and carrion at sites such as farmlands.
    • Crows are covered in black feathers.
      By: gavran333
      Crows are covered in black feathers.