The Black Crow, also known as Cape Crow or Corvus capensis, is a black bird that belongs in the Corvidae family. The Corvidae family is a cosmopolitan family of ravens, crows, jackdaws, jays, magpies, etc. This family of bird species is considered as the largest passerines in the world. The Black Crow’s closest relatives include Little Crow, Forest Raven, Slender-billed Crow, Eastern Jungle Crow, Little Raven, and Pied Raven.
This Black Crow was first described by German physician, explorer, and zoologist Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein in 1823.
This bird species is widely known for its impeccable intelligence and adaptability, and their loud calls. They occur in two separate regions of Africa. Although they are not widely distributed across the African continent, their population is at a stable rise. Therefore, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorized this bird species as Least Concern.
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Species: C. capensis
The physical characteristics of a Black Crow
As its name suggests, the Black Crow is made of black plumage. An adult Black Crow grows from 48 to 50 cm, making it slightly larger than a Carrion Crow. It possesses a slight hint of purple in its feathers. Its black legs, wings, and tail are deemed large for its body. It has a slim bill that seems to adapt well for foraging and digging into the ground for prey.
Its black head has a slight gloss of copper and purple. The throat feathers are fluffed out and are relatively longer than its head feathers.
The distribution and habitat of Black Crows
Black Crows can only be seen in two regions in Africa. One of which is located from the Cape at the southern tip of the continent up to southern Angola and then to Mozambique’s east coast. They can also be found in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and South Sudan, which are all located in central east Africa. It does not frequent in the southern part of the African continent.
Black Crows frequent a wide variety of habitats, including grassland savannahs, open savannahs, semi-arid shrublands, woodland savannahs, moorlands, and agricultural areas with trees to be utilized for nesting.
The behavior of Black Crows
Like any other bird species under the Corvidae family, Black Crows possess remarkable intelligence for animals of their size. They possess a tool-making ability, a skill which was once thought to be possessed only by humankind and few animals. They are also famed for their problem-solving and communication skills.
Their loud calls are characterized by a slow “krrah….krrah….krrah” and a quick “kah-kah-kah.” Black Crows can also produce liquid bubbling and throaty chuckles. Researches have also proved that this bird species practice vocal mimicry as well.
Black Crows mate for life. During the breeding season, the female Black Crow is responsible for building a large nest for its family. It assembles the sticks and twigs that are brought to the nesting site by its male partner. The nest is usually constructed on shrubs, trees, telephone poles, and electricity pylons. Their practice of building nests in transmission poles is believed to have paved the way for the spread of breeding crows, kestrels, and falcons, in treeless areas and near human habitation.
A female Black Crow will lay three to four eggs. These eggs will be incubated for 18 to 19 days. After they hatch, the parents will take good care of the chicks until they fledge, which usually happens 30 to 40 days after hatching.
The diet of a Black Crow
A Black Crow usually forages and probes on the ground for some invertebrates. A Black Crow is typically solitary, but it will often hunt for food with a partner or a small flock.
Black Crows are omnivorous animals. They feed on a broad range of food, such as grains, seeds, fruits, and bulbs. They also feed on animals such as insects, worms, mollusks, flying termites, lizards, frogs, domestic chickens, tortoises, and even other birds. Black Crows also forage on dead animals and garbage, which is the main reason why they are blamed for messy, overturned garbage cans. But the truth is, the real culprits behind these are usually stray dogs and raccoons.
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