The Crow Family



A large group within the passeriformes or songbirds are crows. Believe it or not they are really songbirds, even though croaking and noise-making abilities certainly do not meet our expectations with regard to singing. 


There is quite a variety of species within the corvidae including Magpies, Jays, Nutcracker, Choughs, Jackdaw, Crows and the famous Ravens. Only some of them are distributed across the European landmass and mainly in central Europe, the majority of species, mentioned in this introduction, are located in north Europe, Spain, north Africa, Turkey and the Middle East. Some of them only live in mountainous regions such as the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Scottish Highlands or north European Mountains.


In the crow family we find medium-sized to large birds heavily built birds. All of them show strong legs and a strong pointed bill. These agile birds are alert, very social and they have the ability to learn. They learn how to imitate voices of other bird species, any noise they usually hear and like and some can even imitate some words. All crow species built their own nest of sticks, mostly sitting in tree crowns. The largest nest structure is made by the Magpie.




jackdaw Coloeus monedula
Jackdaw Coloeus monedula


Crows and Food


Crows are omivore and feed on insects, nuts, berries, rubbish, offal, eggs, nestlings, freshly fledged birds and actually everything they can come across and process it. In order to prevent them decimating songbird populations it might be an idea to offer special bird feeding to them. When there is food in abundance then there is no need for them to direct their attention to young birds.



Crows in the Western Palearctic


In all, there are 14 species distributed across the entire Western Palearctic; six of them belong to the Corvus genus. To see them all should require a serious amount of travelling:

  • (Common) Magpie (Pica pica)
  • (Eurasian) Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
  • Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus)
  • (Spotted) Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryoactates)
  • (Western) Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
  • Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
  • Alpin Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) - yellow bill!
  • Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
  • Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
  • Caroion Crow (Corvus corone)
  • Raven (Corvus corax)
  • Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
  • Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhipidurus)
  • House Crow (Corvus splenderes)