crow, partially migratory black bird, genus Corvus, of the same family as the raven, the magpie, the jay, and the rook and the jackdaw of Europe. The American, or common, crow, C. brachyrhynchos, about 19 in. (49 cm) long, has a wingspread of over 3 ft (92 cm). Crows eat some eggs and nestlings and grain, but destroy many harmful insects and rodents. In winter they gather at night by thousands in communal roosts. Their throaty "caw" is familiar, although they can also produce a musical warble. Crows, along with the other members of the family Corvidae, are considered to be the most intelligent of all birds. They are easily tamed and can learn to mimic some human sounds. The New Caledonian crow, C. moneduloides, is especially noted for its intelligence with respect to tools and toolmaking; it can use sticks, wire, string, and other objects as tools and can reshape them so that the object is better suited to a specific use. The fish crow, C. ossifragus, of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts is smaller than the common crow. The carrion crow, C. corone, of Eurasia is a flesh-eating bird 18 to 20 in. (46–51 cm) long. Crows are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.