By Jen Mannas, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
Living in the Seattle area we see crows almost daily. They stroll nonchalantly out of the road just in time to avoid our cars, dive bomb us if we walk our dogs a little too close to their nest, and put on a nightly show of force by the thousands if you happen to drive home on I-405 near Bothell.
Crows have successfully established themselves here and are comfortable with the city lifestyle. Naturally they are adaptors; they are a species that can take advantage of areas where two habitats meet. In our case, it is our wonderful green spaces and the cityscape. They still rely on natural food sources and shelter but have learned how to utilize human subsidies.
Crows are easily adaptable partly because they are omnivores. They eat whatever is available including insects, amphibians, earthworms, nestling birds, eggs, and saltwater invertebrates such as clams and mussels. They also scavenge dead animals and garbage as well as eat wild cultivated fruits and vegetables.
Crows are also extremely intelligent; they can solve problems and puzzles and once they learn, they never forget. They also never forget a face and can distinguish between what they perceive to be good and bad humans.
Crows have a complex family system and are very social. Each season, at least one offspring will stay with the parents through the next nesting season to help care for the new nestlings by bringing food and guarding the nest. At night in the late summer, fall and winter, crows gather from many miles to form communal night roosts.
Currently it is baby crow season in the Seattle area. Since May 15, we've received more than 100 juvenile crows at PAWS Wildlife Center. Some were severely injured and did not survive. Some were reunited with their families. Many others are being raised in our baby bird nursery and some of these have since been released.
Many of the baby crows we receive are taken by people who think they are injured. Because crows fledge from the ground instead of the nest, they spend several days on the ground before they can fully fly.
Fledgling crows are frequently very similar in size to adults but they have blue eyes (below).
If you see a fledgling on the ground who does not appear to be injured and the parents nearby, it is best to leave it alone. This is a time when they are learning essential survival skills from their parents. If the baby crow appears to be injured, please call PAWS Wildlife Center or another local wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance.
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