Corvid birds: description, photo, diet, characteristics and features of species

Corvid birds: description, photo, diet, characteristics and features of species
Corvid birds: description, photo, diet, characteristics and features of species

Crows or corvids are a family of birds from the order of passerines. Among the birds of this order, it is the representatives of this family that are distinguished by their large size and developed intelligence. Which birds are corvids, what are the features of their biology and whether it is worth keeping them in captivity - all this in this article.

blue jay

Different but very similar

Crows are sparrow-like vertebrates. Corvids (common jay, blue jay, gray crow, common raven, jackdaw, rook and many others) represent a rather large family that includes 23 genera and more than 120 species of birds. All of them are characterized by a peculiar "crow" appearance - they are large birds (weight up to 1.5 kg) with a dense body, a large head with a large slightly curved beak. All of them are dark in color, although there are also brightly colored elegant corvids (the photo above is the blue scrub jay Aphelocoma coerulescens).

These birds are distributed almost everywhere on the globe. Birdsfamilies of corvids live in forests, steppes, deserts, mountains. They are not found in Antarctica, in the far north, South America and on the oceanic islands of New Zealand.

In Russia, corvids (photo below) are represented by 15 species, the most famous of which are gray (Corvus cornix) and black (Corvus corone) crows, common raven (Corvus corax), rook (Corvus frugilegus), jackdaw (Corvus monedula), common magpie (Pica pica).

corvids russia

Some specific features

In the article there is no opportunity to characterize many species of corvids. We will describe only a few representatives. We all know well.

The common raven (Corvus corax) is one of the smartest members of the family. A large bird with a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters, weighing up to 1.5 kilograms and a body length of up to 70 centimeters. The beak is massive, high and sharp. The tail is wedge-shaped. The color is black with a metallic sheen, females do not differ from males.

raven black

Grey (Corvus cornix) and black (Corvus corone) crow - body sizes up to 56 centimeters. Sometimes they are considered as two subspecies of the same species, differing in the color of feathers - in the first, the head, wings and tail are black, and the body is gray, in the second - black with a greenish or purple tint.

Rook (Corvus frugilegus) - birds with a body length of up to 45 centimeters, black with a purple sheen, the base of the beak is bare. Migratory birds in the northern part of the range.

The Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) is a fairly small bird. Body length up to 35 centimeters.The wings and tail are black, and the body is slate grey. The beak is short and stocky. Funny and sociable birds. For their cheerful nature, they are the ones who are often kept in captivity.

Forty ordinary (Pica pica) - are distinguished by a characteristic black and white color. Body length up to 50 centimeters. The tail is longer than the body.

common jay

Common jay (Garrulus glandarius) is a rare representative of corvids in Russia with bright plumage. The name of these birds comes from the old Russian word "soy", which means "shine". Jay is about the size of a jackdaw, has a crest on its head, a tan body combined with a white rump, bright blue striped shoulders and black wings, tail and top of the head. Jays are skilled mimics and their song is made up of the sounds of other birds.

Raven and crow are not husband and wife

As it has already become clear, these are birds of the same genus Crows, but completely different species. And even their outward resemblance leaves no doubt about that. They never pair up.

But with their appearance, most corvids (photo - a pair of magpies at the nest), they enter into long-term monogamous relationships. Sexual dimorphism is not developed in corvids, the male is usually somewhat larger than the female. Male and female together build a nest of branches, fastening them with grass and bark. Together they incubate and feed the chicks, which usually appear from 4 to 7. The chicks hatch from colored eggs (usually pale green with brown spots) on the 16-22nd day and do not leave the nest until 10 weeks of age. But even after that, parents often continue to take care of theiroffspring and train them.

magpie nest

Our neighbors

Synanthropes - this is the name in biology of animal species that settle near humans. And there are many such birds among the corvids. This is due primarily to their omnivorous and ingenuity. Most corvids feed on both plant and animal food. They eat berries and fruits, vegetables and nuts, insects, invertebrates, small mammals, birds and their eggs, and do not disdain carrion.

They adapt well to life next to a person, using the remnants of our life to feed. In the urban landscape, flocks of crows that live in landfills are a common sight.

Public and savvy

Most corvids live in groups and for a long time. For example, crows (Corvus corax) live up to 100 years in captivity. And thanks to social cohabitation, it is precisely the corvids that have a rather high intelligence, comparable in level with primates. Of course, not everyone in the corvid squad is that smart.

But there are many examples of solving complex logical problems by jays, gray crows and common ravens, magpies, jackdaws and rooks. They are described in the literature, they are studied by ethologists (scientists on animal behavior) and from the most ancient times, it was the representatives of this family that embodied wisdom and experience in legends and tales.

corvidae family

Amazing Birds

These are empathic (empathic), easy to learn, courageous, inquisitive and cautious birds. Young birds in a flock of crows play coeducationalgames. In addition, there is a clear hierarchy in the packs, which implies certain duties (watchmen, signalmen, scouts).

Cooperation required these birds to develop a signaling system. Although they belong to the song sparrows, their singing itself is not developed. It is rather the reproduction of single sounds, which we call "croaking". But interestingly, the crows of different flocks have their own dialects and they do not immediately understand each other. But in their flock they arrange whole meetings, collectively "hunt" and play.

raven corvidae

Observant and cruel

Crows can easily distinguish a man with a gun and a stick in his hands. They assess the danger and conduct surveillance. That is why scarecrows cannot keep them from attacking the crop for a long time. They distinguish men from women, they are less afraid of the latter and more often make fun of them.

Yes, they have a sense of humor. Easily imitating the barking of dogs, they frighten cats. And domestic crows master even the elements of our speech and skillfully use the knowledge gained.

They have a craving for beauty for the sake of beauty - so many fairy tales have been written about magpies and their treasures.

They will fight hard to protect their nest. And they will go to the competition in getting or even taking away food.

crow and seagull

Forest and city orderlies

Unpretentiousness in food allows them to carry out sanitary service in nature and the city. These are the inhabitants of the garbage dumps and dumps in the city, they also destroy the corpses of animals. Due to their addiction to carrion, they have long been considered "prophetic"birds and companions of misfortune. Circling over the battlefield, they unwittingly became the image of doom.

But in nature, these birds are distinguished by complex feeding behavior, in which they are helped by memory, observation and quick wits. They even remember people who feed birds in parks or stray animals, beds in summer cottages where strawberries grow. Memory allows them to stock up and empty the gardens in time.

Mythological image

Among the most diverse peoples of the world, you can find the image of corvids, which personify rather contradictory qualities. In Ireland, the raven is the companion of the goddess of death and war. But in Australia, a raven stole fire from the gods for people. In China, there is a legend about ten suns, which were personified by ravens.

Ancient Greeks considered ravens to be harbingers of rain. In Aesop's fables, they personify stupidity and arrogance.

The Slavs considered corvids to be "unclean". Their meat was not eaten, they accompanied sorcerers and fortune-tellers, and it was believed that they lived forever.

Ravens were considered greedy for flattery and conceited. The plot of a crow that dropped a piece of cheese in response to praise, described in the famous fable of the Russian writer Ivan Andreevich Krylov (1769-1844), is found in many cultures of the world.

In modern culture, the image of crows is smoothed out and loses its sinister meaning. But since ancient times, many signs and proverbs associated with these birds have come to us and continue to play their role in life. Many of which are explained by the biology and intelligence of their natural counterparts.

raven in captivity


Keeping corvids in captivity does not cause difficulties. Chicks are quickly tamed, recognize their owners, make friends with dogs, cats, horses. But there are nuances in their content. These are mobile and energetic birds - in captivity they need to be occupied with games and entertainment. In addition, these large birds require a spacious aviary, and if kept free, be prepared for repeated cleaning. They are unpretentious in nutrition and will be satisfied with the contents of your refrigerator.

Crows live a long time - so your willingness to share several decades with a pet should be balanced and conscious.

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