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Northwestern crows are mid-sized birds. Their feathers are iridescent black with bluish-violet on their head, neck, back, wings and tail. Their eyes are a smoky brownish-grey color and their bills are glossy and stout. They also have bristle-like feathers covering the nares. Crows have thick, black legs with large scales on the front side only. When at rest, the tips of their folded wings do not reach the tip of the tail, which has slightly rounded ends. The sexes look alike, though the male is slightly larger than the female.
Northwestern crows are about ten percent smaller than American crows and have smaller feet. They are also smaller than common ravens. Ravens also have wedge-shaped tails and shaggy throat feathers, while the tail of the northwestern crow is squared, and they lack shaggy throat feathers.
Northwestern crows fly at about 20 miles per hour and have a wing-beat that is faster than that of American crows, and are very maneuverable in flight.
Northwestern crows are omnivorous scavengers. They can and will eat almost anything they can find. Their diet ranges from small invertebrates to human garbage, depending on what is available. Northwestern crows will also cache food, which is typically retrieved within 24 hours.
Breeding and nest building begins early February through late March. Northwestern crows breed once yearly, but they will re-nest if disturbed early in the season. The female selects a place to build the nest, normally in or under trees, shrubs or tall grass. Nest-building occurs only during daylight hours and in good weather. Nests are built with branches broken off of trees, grass and moss as well as other objects and soil, and line their nests with moss and feathers, among other things. Females typically lay three to six eggs per breeding season, with the female incubating the eggs for about 18 days. They leave the nest permanently at about 31 days. After the fledgling period they gradually decrease territorial behavior and eventually the entire family goes to live in a large roosting community. Yearlings and non-mating adults remain in the roosting community year-round. Within a roosting community, certain birds will act as sentries, keeping an eye out for available food, possible thieves and predators.
This species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web