Noticeably smaller than a Raven, the Carrion Crow is a similar size to the Rook - a species with which it is often confused. As well as having a heavier black bill, the Carrion Crow lacks the shaggy thighs of the Rook and has a different head shape.
The typical Carrion Crow call is a resonant 'kraa', stronger than the rather flat-sounding call of the Rook. Crows are usually seen singly or in small groups, while Rooks are more sociable birds.
Carrion Crows are opportunist feeders and have a wide and varied diet. Because they may take gamebird eggs and chicks, they have been targeted by gamekeepers. Similarly, sheep farmers sometimes control thse crows because of the perception that they kill young lambs. However, insects and other invertebrates are the main prey in summer, with carrion and other scavenged food an important addition during the breeding season. Grain becomes important in the autumn and winter.
The predation of eggs and young chicks tends to be highly seasonal, with the crows seeking to satisfy the needs of their own growing brood. Since these crows only produce a single brood of chicks each year, their impact as predators is restricted.
Unlike Rooks, Carrion Crows are solitary nesters, maintaining a large breeding territory centred on the nest. However, crows from neighbouring territories may work together to see off intruders or potential predators.
Seabird ID and ecology (2 sessions, Thursdays 7pm)
Unfortunately this course is now fully booked. We're exploring the possibility of an additional run in July; please email training [at] bto.org to express interest.
Top tips for photographing birds
BTO's president shares his suggestions for improving your chances of getting that perfect shot.