Crows are fascinating birds, long associated with bad omens and special abilities. But are they truly immortal? How long do crows live, in real life? Let’s find out
Crows – the familiar sight of the jet-black bird with beady eyes is something we are used to.
A member of the Corvid family from the Corvus genus, crows are scavenging birds who are known to survive in any environment.
There are 35 species of crows including the common crows, ravens, magpies, and nutcrackers.
Most variants of this bird species have similar life cycles and lifespans. Let us find out a little more about these common, yet fascinating birds.
How Long Can Crows Live?
Crows are known to be one of the most resilient animals in nature. The average life expectancy of any species of bird in the Corvus family is around 16 to 20 years.
The adult American crow might live to be even 20 years in the wild, although the average lifespan is around 5-7 years. In captivity, crows have been known to live much longer – up to 40 years.
In the Wild?
Crows in the wild typically live around 10 years but can live up to 20 years if they have access to good food and shelter. The table below shows how many years different crow species can live
In captivity, their life expectancy can increase dramatically. There have been reports of crows living up to 20 to 30 years in captivity, and one bird even lived to be 59 years old!
Lifespan Of Common Crow Species
|Species||Lifespan (in the wild)|
|Hooded crow||16 years|
|Carrion crow||4 to 7 years|
|American crow||15 years|
|Torresian crow||20 years|
Life Cycle Of Crows
Crows have a similar life cycle to other birds. The adults begin with nesting and after the eggs hatch, they keep the babies till they are young adults.
When the young crows reach their mating age, they fly out and start exploring the surroundings.
When it comes to building a nest, both male and female crows work together. It takes around 8 to 14 days for the nest to be built and for the female to settle in.
A crow lays four to five eggs and incubates them for 18 days and the mate often takes care of them during this time. The normal nesting season for crows is around mid-March and lasts till mid-July.
The eggs of a crow hatch within 18 days of incubation. Baby crows are usually grey in color and they are called “chicks” like all other birds.
They are fed by their parents after hatching and start growing feathers between 28-35 days. The process of growing wing feathers that can support the chicks flying, is called “fledging”.
After the chicks go through their fledgling years, they become young adult crows. They start getting out of the nest at this stage but cannot fend for themselves.
They are fed by the adults for roughly one more month. Crows usually start forming families when they are growing up.
Most crow families will consist of the parents and their children from their mating of two or three years. All crows come together to prepare for the upcoming nesting season.
Most species of birds start mating when they are four years of age. For American crows, the adults start breeding when they are two years old.
After nesting season, most adult crows join other families of crows. The communal roosts of crows are a method of exchanging information among each other.
This is their way of tracking food and understanding their surroundings.
What Factors Cause Crow Mortality?
While crows in the wild are known to survive in tough environments, these birds often do not survive over the age of 1.
- 89% of the average American crows fail to survive up to their mating age.
- In the case of Torresian crows, only 1 in 20 crows are known to live into adulthood.
Crows in the wild face a number of threats like predators, parasites, and diseases. Common predators of crows include bigger birds of prey like eagles, hawks, and owls.
Crows are incredibly vulnerable to the West Nile virus, which has caused the death of nearly 45% of the American crow population in the US
Humans can also be considered a threat to crows since they are hunted for meat. Young crows also die from infections and illnesses, malnourishment, and unfavorable weather.
Crows in captivity have a longer lifespan since they normally do not face the threats of the wild. This is why some of the world’s longest surviving crows were from captivity.
Oldest Crows In the World
Like all other animals, there have been unique cases of long-living crows recorded over the years. Here are some of the most interesting cases:
- Tata, a crow living in the Woodstock Hamlet of Bearsville, grew to be 59 years. His owner Flores reported him to be born in 1947 when he was rescued during a storm. After being brought to a local family, Tata stayed with them for five decades and passed away from old age in 2006.
- The oldest American crow was studied by Cornell University and grew up to be 17 years and 5 months old. It was photographed in the state of Washington.
- Edgar the crow at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo was one of the oldest crows in captivity in North America. He lived to be almost 26 years old and was popular as a very friendly bird to everyone who visited him.
Do Crows Grieve?
Crows are one of the most intelligent members of bird species. A lot of studies show that crows are capable of holding grudges against their captors. They can recognize faces even after years and communicate this information among themselves.
One common phenomenon in crow families is to gather around a recently deceased crow and caw loudly.
Scientifically known as “mobbing”, crows come together to sound a distress call when they find a dead crow. They are even known to mate with dead crows as a sign of distress or aggression.
Though it is not proven that this is a sign of grieving, crows are capable of carrying emotional intelligence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do crows live for 500 years?
No. There is no valid evidence that suggests crows can live for 500 years, this is just a story. But crows that have adequate access to food and a healthy environment, can live up to an average of 20 years.
Do crows mate for life?
Crows are known to be socially monogamous creatures, though genetically they can be promiscuous.
Mated pairs of crows will usually mate for life and stay close together. It is also common for them, just like other bird species, to find partners outside of their mating pairs.
Where do crows sleep?
Crows have community roost sites where they live within families. It is common for most crows to sleep in these roosts around the season.
These are usually located in trees that are near water. All types of crows – male, female and younger chicks live together and sleep in these roosts.
How many babies do crows usually have?
A female crow usually lays four to five eggs in each nesting season. It is common for all the chicks to be alive till the young adult stage. However, most crows do not live up to the age of 1, so it is possible only 2 of all the eggs will survive.
Crows are greatly misunderstood birds, often seen as portents of bad omens. In fact, these intelligent birds have been known to use tools, solve problems, and even remember human faces.
They are very adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats. While they are not currently endangered, their numbers have declined in some areas due to habitat loss and hunting.
Understanding their life cycle can be really helpful to know how nature can work in different ways. Thank you for reading about the life of crows!