• Just curious:  After finishing this first lesson, should I know how to id a crow's nest?  I did not see any material on that yet, but I am hopeful to learn about it.   If my neighbor were badmouthing the crow I would tell him what I told my son this afternoon:  Crows don't really eat baby birds.  You mine as well hate dear, because they ate pretty much the same amount of baby birds as deer did.  I would also point out that if he does want to blame a creature for the destruction of those nests, he should look to the squirrels and chipmunks that he thinks are so "cute." I live nee NYC, and I though in my small city we don't see a ton of crows, I have noticed fish crows nearby more and more.  I am wondering, what is the link between the American and fish crow?  Are some of their behaviors similar?  Is the only way to distinguish them by the sound of their call?  I noticed that I do not see any fish crows on the ID with the ravens.  Is it possible to tell them apart?
      • I don't actually remember where in the course Dr. McGowan described crow nests. However I will tell you that they are very large very difficult to find. They are typically built near the top of a tree in a dense area of vegetation which makes them typically hard to find.  Here in the Ithaca, NY area the American Crows often build them in the upper portion of a conifer tree but once in awhile in a deciduous tree. However if places like San Diego they nest in palm trees too. Usually they are built so hidden one can't obtain photos of them. However I will link you to some that were not hidden as well usual.   https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/228943851          Nest in Wisconsin Their nests are very well built and strong. Other birds will use or even steal a crow nest and use it for their own nest such as a Merlin or a Great-horned Owl.
      • The spot that he describes where to find crow nests and shows images is in this topic: Crow Research Techniques
    • Teresa
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      1. Using the graphic in this lecture, I'd say that besides deer, crows prey on baby birds the least and that biggest predators of baby birds are snakes in the south and squirrels and chipmunks in the north. 2. I've been to 47 states and 5 provinces and have seen American Crows in all those places. 3. We don't have ravens where we live now but we see them often when I visit family in the Pacific Northwest. The size and beaks help me tell them apart. I've not observed enough raven behavior enough to distinguish them by that trait. 4. Our flock of chickens benefit from having crows around because not only do they sound the alarm when they see hawks (primarily Red-tailed and Red-shouldered, but often also Coopers, in our area), they also mob them, giving the chickens time to run and hide.
    • Audrey
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      1.   I  would probably tell my neighbor that squirrels kill more baby birds than American Crows; if they did not believe me, I would simply tell them about the study showing how squirrels and chipmunks kill more nestlings than raccoons, cats, and weasels, and that squirrels kill almost as many baby birds as snakes. If she (or he) still complains, I would probably say "I'm sorry you feel that way." Then, I would probably leave. :)
    • Deborah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      The squirrels and songbirds in my yard are warned by the flock of crows who visit everyday, whenever hawks and cats enter the yard.
    • I would try to educate them that snakes and squirrels are bigger predators. I would try to educate the neighbor as to the amazing things that crows can do.
    • Kelly
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      12/27/19 1. I would ask the neighbor if they actually saw a Crow kill a songbird. I would show the neighbor the statistics. I would tell them to watch the Starlings and Blue Jays because those two are the real culprits. 2. I have seen a Crow nest and decoy nests. Their nest is large and full of sticks. Their decoy nests are not as full as their real nest. They chase Ravens away. 3. I live in Maine. We have both American Crows and Ravens. The Ravens that swing through have a more throaty sound. They are much larger than the Crows. 4. Seagulls and Starlings benefit from having Crows around. As soon as the Crows start talking the others come around.
    • Debra
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      1. I will tell my neighbor that squirrels and chipmunks are the biggest predators of baby birds and that actually jays and crows are near the bottom of the list , along with deer . 2. I have 3 crows that come to visit in Hamburg Twp., Michigan. They like walking along the middle of the dirt road, maybe pecking for salt in the winter. They will also look around in the leaf litter and under the feeders. I would like to find a nest, but most likely their nest is on private property in the woods beyond my neighbor's home. 3. The raven is not found near me, but maybe I can see one sometime in northern Michigan. I will note that the crow has more rounded features than the raven and 5 longer wing feathers . 4. Owls will use nests left behind by crows. They also warn other birds of hawks, become the prey of larger predators, and help spread seeds. They help keep the food web in check by eating insects and rodents.
    • Michele
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I was surprised to learn that there is a crow hunting season in California where I live.  Much of this seems to rest on the idea that crows destroy crops and kill waterfowl - negatively impacting farmers and hunters and carry West Nile virus.  Curious to know the counter-arguments and statistics to these statements. https://www.wonews.com/t-CAGunsHunt_HuntingCrows_013119.aspx Guess I was surprised because on one hand they are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918. Michele
    • Rosalie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I live in Southern California in the wild lands and we have both crows and ravens. My neighbor actually has complained to me about corvids killing nestlings, so I was really happy to learn from the pie chart that crows make up a very small percentage of song bird predators. Next time I see her I will tell her that snakes and squirrels make up 50% of predators, followed by raccoons, ants, mice.. I am not sure yet how to locate a crow's nest. We had a pair of ravens in our canyon this spring and I wasn't able to locate their nest either. I see ravens more frequently than crows in our particular canyon, but I have seen crows in other areas near by, primarily in more populated neighborhoods in backyards, trash cans, and flying. I volunteer at our local wildlife hospital and have been fortunate to see both crows and ravens close up. It's more difficult to distinguish them in flight, but close up it's easier to see that the ravens are twice the size and have a more protuberant or "ugly" beak. The crows look like a sleeker, more streamlined, more elegant bird. I've been paying more attention to the differences in their sounds. I love all the gurgly sounds that ravens make. I'm not sure I've been around them enough to notice behavioral differences and I look forward to that. Owls benefit from crows being around because they like to use their nests. Crows are the "neighborhood watch" for other wildlife. They dispense seeds.
    • I live in central Ohio where there are no ravens.  Crows are common but not quite ubiquitous.   Kevin McGowan mentioned in a video for the online crow course that crows(American) like pines and the tallest trees in the area for their nests.  While working a fundraiser in a commercial area with less then optimal birding, I birded as I could.  Crows were usually around.  I observed one land in the top of an Eastern White Pine(Pinus strobus) tree in a bank parking lot across the street.   Then it dawned on me.  I looked around and saw no other close by trees of size, let alone pines.  The foliage is dense so it is hard to make out a nest in there but I highly suspect there is.  What is not to love from the crow's perspective?  People provide these planted pines for housing, and fast food trash for board.  Eastern Redcedar(Juniperus virginiana) is largely the only native conifer in the area.   Sure, they could work to find food in natural areas, but why?  They are smart.  Gregory S. Allen
    • Barbara J
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I love crows. At first I didn’t. One day I was running in my neighborhood and a crow flew up low behind me and pecked me really hard on the top of my head. Then everyday it did that no matter what side of the street I used. Then it began to notice me a block away, cawing at me and continued to peck me on the head. Finally I avoided that street out of fear but a year later decided to run on it again. Sure enough, a year later, the crow saw me, flew down and pecked me hard on the top of my head. I could never figure out what I had done to that crow unless it was to inadvertently run under a tree where it had babies. Later I read about the University of Washington studies about how crows recognize faces and I became intrigued and started learning more about them. I have a crow experiment in my own backyard now that I will mention later.
      • Eveline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        That is an awesome story Barbara. I too wonder what you did to invoke that negative attention! Our last dog once barked at some crows in front of our house. Afterwards, I didn't notice it at first, but my husband pointed out to me that when we walked along the front sidewalk they would start to congregate and fly from tree to tree and yell at us. I didn't initially piece together why they did this, until it dawned on me that they were following my dog. Thankfully they never attacked us the way they have attacked you. And thankfully they are able to distinguish my current dog (both golden retrievers) from the last one, and no longer chase us!
    • Lita
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Hi, everyone: I enjoy your comments about crows and ravens very much. Please keep them coming. I last wrote on 8/2/19 about finding a baby bird and a baby squirrel (on different days) in the water bowl I placed on the corner of our second-level deck. Today, my neighbor witnessed a crow bring a dead mouse to the water bowl. This bowl is a 12-inch diameter clay saucer that is often placed underneath a large clay pot, and I can see it from the third level of our townhouse.  When I glanced out the window and saw something large in the water bowl I sent my husband out to "take care of it." That's when our neighbor reported that he watched a crow pecking at it. So, is the crow a predator or just a scavenger? So far, crows have brought these three animals as well as chicken bones, plant roots, and lots of bread products. They are very enterprising and like their food well moistened!
    • harriet
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      1 American crows have actually killed about as many songbird nestlings as white-tailed deer. 2 Near trashcans 3 Crows live in the east more
    • karhleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      1 Statiscally, snakes and squirrels are the prime predators for song bird nestlings 2 I feed American crows in my backyard in southeastern NC  I will look for nests on my walks in the future 3I don’t believe there are any ravens here and I have never seen one 4/crows warn of predators. I have seen the crows in my backyard chase hawks away.
    • Ava
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      1) Crows actually are not the biggest culprit in killing baby song birds in fact it's more the squirrels and chipmunks that do the most damage. 2) I see them in my neighborhood.  I don't know if I could see their nest, but will be keeping my eyes open now.  I did watch a group of them chase an owl into a tree.  Yelling at it the whole time.  It was very interesting! 3) I've seen ravens in the Yellowstone National Park.  I didn't at the time know if it was a crow or raven.  Looking back now it was defiantly a raven.  He was huge and had those beautiful neck feathers. 4) They seem like they can let other animals know there's a predator around.  They disperse seeds and clean up road kill Lol.
      • karhleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        I have seen them in the western states.  On the Madison River I watched them raise 3 Babies over the summer.  I was fishing from a boat and their nest, mostly a pile of sticks, was in an indentation on a cliff face
    • erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in Las Vegas NV and I took the class because I've always been interested in the 'crows' that spend the night in my trees sometimes or that you see feasting on all manner of stuff when you drive through the desert to California.   jThe first thing I learned is that all those guys aren't even crows they're ravens . . .   And while we have plenty of grackles all over (which I knew about) and plenty of ravens it does not appear we even have crows around.  I'm still glad I took the course because I like birds and animals even if they don't live close by.
    • Jo
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I summer on the west coast of Newfoundland and there are plenty of crows there. They gather in our yard, where I sometimes throw Cheetos, and around my small compost pile, where I put out mostly vegetable matter but sometimes fish skins. Watching them fly across the field, bright orange Cheeto cigars in their mouths is a delight. Our cottage overlooks the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the crows love to soar on the updrafts and winds along the shoreline dipping and floating and playing with each other.  They seem to wait for us to arrive every summer -we've been going there for 10 years- and may even be greeting our return. They help make the whole vacation so much more interesting and fun.
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I live in Northern New York where ravens are on the edge of their range.  I see more crows than I do ravens, and the difference in size is very noticeable.  I notice that on the few occasions where I have noticed ravens, besides the size, the wedge-shaped tail is a strong clue as well.  Crows seem to hang together in larger groups than the ravens I've observed.  And they can be the neighborhood watchers and warners of "danger in our midst."  Last spring a barred owl spent some time in our yard (much to our delight), but it was crows that badgered it loudly to ward it off and send the alarm.  They were very persistent.  Recently a bald eagle perched in a spruce, accompanied by a team of crows loudly making the call!
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live I Sacramento CA.  The map shows an absence of ravens there.  
      • sandra
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        I live in Nevada County in the foothills of  Sierra Nevadas ..Nothern California  .I have feed  Blue Jays and Shrub Jays for years,  peanuts .. ..Love how they mimic my calls..(another story)  then watched at close range,  10 feet away  a crow I caught eating out of the trash can.. .. we eyed  each other.. at that point I was hooked, we noth were..  ..At that point they were not common, just a few so decided to try and feed them..  I live in a HOA  so found a  tree quiet corner  that no one used and started calling them.. figuring out they were as talented  as the Jays!  Then started feeding them a little daily .. Within  a short period of time they would call me , land on my deck railing looking for a morsel..  I underwent knee surgery so was bedbound home bound for weeks and Covid  .. at that point could not distinguish individuals except for their calls ..but there was 2 that would land right in front on the only window I could see out,   a small window  where I lay.. Incredible that these 2 knew which window in my 2 storied condo ..  Eventually I healed.. then was able to go outside.. ..the main 2 ..they pair up for  life I believe would wait until I was at the kitchen window  high up in a Birch tree (they love the tallest tree) and call to me ..  sometimes 5-6 of them in one tree..  .. out I would go and feed them.. .They are very cautious because of their size.. .. I called them they would chatter and circle.. long story.. I eventually had about 60 a day in a few short weeks and a family of ravens .. .. I believe they dont rely on one food source but  scope more than several daily .Im not home all the time too but a few days return .. there they are on my deck again .. . they have their 'routes' and the crow that calls me  (and mate) is what I call a spotter  '.. This got to be a problem in the HOA ,so had to relocate to a safer place away from homes , as many people see them  as pests..  I watched about 25 of them being corraled by a red hawke one night..  They stayed  in that tree above my home for nearly an hour it was nearly dark when they flew away, which was unusuall as they bed down  early evening   .. never seen then stay quiet for  that long all huddled close  ..    The spotter and mate know my car , so will follow me occasionally down to the bank find a tree above my car and call me  when I exit the bank..it makes me laugh..   If I had guests parking in my driveway, they responded  like' who are you' .. and would warn me.. interesting as I told no one , but the guests would ask me 'whats with those birds in the tree  above your home'    I eventually told my neighbour .. she laughed.. What! ..she did not believe me ..A few days later this same neighbour drove me down to fill my car with gas ( I wasnt  driving yet )  At a  'very busy noisy  AMPM'  she gets out to fill up and there right behind my rear where two large crows ..just landed..within 2 feet from my trunk  .. It was sad when I had to relocate them..   very very sad.. they called and called.. but the HOA was not pleased ..    They eventually left after a few weeks and then I found a new quiet corner an empty large lot with  trees  down the road about a mile away .. So when Im home I visit  go down there ..call them and in they come circling the trees calling to me .. The Ravens barely move when I drive in and call them..  The spotter and mate are never far away .. interesting how they seem to eat something in the gravel drive ..is it a mineral?   And just  love to watch them 'kinda jump up quickly' when they eat.. have not figured that one out yet.. do any other birds do this? Ive watched them around small flocks of  birds ,  these wonderful creatures  stay away from the  ducking diving swooping of smaller birds . Its as if they are cautious of them because of their  large size and not so nimble.. I have about 40-50 Crows and Ravens about 15.. although dont see them all together  feeding as I did before So happy to join this groupand read your stories
    • Robin Lee
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      3. I live in Laguna Beach, CA. I feed both the Crows and Ravens. I noticed the beak difference, definitely the size and the sound they make. I especially watch one big raven, guessing male...named him “big poppy”. He’s 3 times the size of any crow in the murder I feed. I noticed that the crows and ravens don’t really interact. The murder I feed is approximately 15-20 birds. There are two crows that actually mimic human sound. One clearly says “hello, hello” and we’ve had short conversations, the other makes a few different noises, not quite sure what he’s mimicking, but “hello” comes out at the end.
    • Sally
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      1. I would say that a songbird nest predation study was done in 4 different forests via a video camera so it was easy to determine who was entering the nest. Over half of the predations were from squirrels (includes savage but cute chipmunks) and snakes (mostly in the south). Other predators include racoons, insects, cowbirds, jays, crows and 2 out of the 245 recorded predations were from deer. So not to worry about crows ravaging baby songbirds. Look out for the squirrels. 2. I can see a conifer tree from my bedroom that houses a crows nest. I have watched (and listened to it for years). 3. I live in the NW where we have both ravens and crows. I associate ravens with higher elevations in the mountains and don't know that I have ever seen them in Seattle. I do not know any difference in their behavior....is there any? Living in different ecosystems does not necessarily mean they  have different behaviors. And yes, I think I can tell the difference now. 4. Raptors will prey upon crows so that is OK as they need to end too. If there are any animals that hunt in association with crows (wolves, coyotes) that is a benefit to creatures in the ecosystem.
      • Eveline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        That is so interesting (to me) that you associate ravens with higher elevations Sally. I live in the Canadian prairies (above N Dakota) so elevation is not a topic around here. Even though they do exist in my area, I mostly have always associated them with 'the North'. I am ashamed to admit that I actually didn't realise they lived in the western States until I saw the map. As far as different behaviours - my main distinction on that is that crows are gregarious and live in groups, whereas I believe ravens tend to be solitary.
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      3. I live in the northwest of NJ. When we moved into our house, there was actually a pair of ravens that lived in our area. They have moved on... not sure where to. We could tell they were ravens by their size... if I look at one and think 'that's a BIG crow' I'll give it a second look and their calls. They were deep guttural sounds vs. the higher pitched 'caw'. There is now a family of crows here, so I'm guessing that they don't 'co-habitate' well. I haven't seen the ravens in our yard since the crows 'moved in'. I do still see ravens in and around the area, but not often. They are harder to spot. I'm kind of disappointed not to see the ravens anymore. We did name our house 'Raven's Roost'! It would be difficult to give up watching the antics of the crows though. 4. The other animals in the country-area I live in have definitely benefited. I feed the crows every day - just a little supplement, nothing major... so the other birds (including sparrows, blue jays, and even sometimes red-tailed hawks) and other animals (squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits) get some left-overs. I only feed them in the morning so I know the food will be gone WELL before dark when we see raccoons, coyote, and bear... which I would prefer NOT get used to my feeding them. As much as I love them, I do have to take the dogs out in the dark so don't want these guys hanging out close to the house as much.
    • KATHRYN
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I have seen firsthand the unpleasant experience of a group of Crows raiding some House Sparrow nest boxes that were put up in front of a shopping center. If someone came to me complaining about that, I would, of course, first be empathetic to why they were upset. I would go on to explain that it is nature-survival. The House Sparrows often kill and/or drive out Bluebirds from THEIR nests. Common cats, both domestic and feral also prey on crows and other birds.If a person wanted to prevent Crows from attacking nestlings in the nestboxes people provided they can do research on hole sizes and ways to keep predators out. I live in Northeast FL and see Crows pretty much everywhere all year long. Have had the pleasure of having the same group/family come to my yard for several years. It became easy to distinguish individual personalities and my favorite part was when the youngsters would show up - just to listen to them learning to talk and watching them play with sticks and pretty much anything they could get ahold of. They are very adapted to visiting restaurant dumpsters as well. Unfortunately I have only been ably to spot Ravens North of here in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain areas of North GA> As for benefits to other animals, I think they serve as lookouts for prey animals, not only issuing loud warnings, but chasing off the predators. When they scatter food about during eating, I'm sure other birds/small animals eat leftovers.  
    • Lita
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I decided to sign up to this course in order to try understand crows better. We have a family of 5 crows that nest in the tall trees near us each spring. About that time I set out a large saucer of water on the deck railing for robins, cardinals, and other small birds to bathe in. They are fun to watch. But the crows don't just drink the water. They also like also like to use it to soak chunks of dry bread before scarfing it down. This makes the water very messy, and I have to change it. Also messy are the chicken bones. Ugh! Even worse, this past spring crows brought freshly killed fledglings and even - once - a baby squirrel, to rinse in the water. But now it is July, and hot. The crows have gone somewhere cooler, but the robins still appreciate a daily bath. We live in Arlington, VA.
      • Eveline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        That's interesting Lita that the crows regularly use the water to soak their food. I have a bird bath in my back yard, and a little drainage pond in my front yard, and both are heavily used (for drinking and bathing) by all the birds, squirrels, and even cats in the area. I have seen crows very  occasionally drink from the pond, but I've never seen them bring food to it. I wonder if there is something more enticing about your saucer than my bird bath or pond. Maybe they like that your saucer is more shallow? Hmm...I will have to experiment next summer!
      • sandra
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Interesting ehst they do with your water...  Ive not seen them drink my water.. other  birds just not crows ..the water also is on the deck so probably a little intimidating for that wing  span.. .
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      2 and 3: I live in Southern New England and have always seen plenty of Crows in the area.  Sometimes, birders will report seeing a Raven on a local email site, but I've never seen a Raven here.  I do occasionally hear a Fish Crow.  It can be tricky to single them out from the calls of begging juvenile Crows, but Fish Crows' calls seem higher-pitched.  I've never seen a nest.   I really enjoy the behaviors of Crows.  A few years ago I took a series of photos of a group of Crows feeding in my yard on Pears that were on the ground around my very productive Pear tree.  A juvenile Crow was constantly begging with both voice and body movements (mouth agape, wings partly opened and trembling)  following one particular Crow that was feeding on pears on the ground.  At one point, the juvenile Crow tipped over on the ground, wings tightly folded closed, yet still with mouth agape and begging calls!  The adult near it completely ignored it, even as it lay for severals seconds on its side, loudly begging.  Such "drama"!  Nice try!   Their behaviors continue to fascinate me and I'm eager to learn more via this course.
      • Sally
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        GREAT STORY! Destined for the stage.