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Hooded Crow

From Opus

Corvus cornix cornix, adultPhoto by PtarmiCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland,  November 2012
Corvus cornix cornix, adult
Photo by Ptarmi
County Antrim, Northern Ireland, November 2012

Alternative name: Mesopotamian Crow (C. c. capellanus)

Corvus cornix


[edit] Identification

Length 48-54 cm, wingspan 84-100 cm, weight 0.4-0.6 kg.

  • Glossy black head, throat, upper breast, wings, tail and thigh feathers
  • Rest of the body mid grey (to pale grey in some subspecies; see below)
  • Black bill and legs
  • Iris dark brown to black

Juveniles have duller plumage with bluish or greyish eyes and, initially, a red mouth.

Corvus cornix cornix in flightPhoto by MacswedeSolberga, Stockholm, Sweden, April 2009
Corvus cornix cornix in flight
Photo by Macswede
Solberga, Stockholm, Sweden, April 2009

[edit] Similar species

  • Carrion Crow Corvus corone is distinguished by being all-black, with no grey feathering; it is otherwise virtually identical, not differing in calls, behaviour, or habitat choice; it replaces Hooded Crow in southwestern Europe (southern Scotland east to Germany and south to Portugal) and (as subspecies Corvus corone orientalis) in central and eastern Asia.
  • Pied Crow Corvus albus, widespread in Africa, has superficially similar plumage pattern, but with white instead of grey, except the lower back and and undertail, which are black.

[edit] Distribution

Northern, central and eastern Europe, western Asia, and northeasternmost Africa, in Ireland, northwestern Scotland, Scandinavia, and south through Poland, east and south of the Alps to Italy; east from there to the Yenisei river in central Siberia, and southeast to northern Egypt and Iran. Largely resident, but migrates out of northern Scandinavia and northern Russia in winter; small numbers reach as far south and west as eastern England and northeastern France in winter, and also into the central Asian steppes where it does not breed.

Corvus cornix pallescensPhoto by alkumaheerdGolestan, northern Iran, January 2005
Corvus cornix pallescens
Photo by alkumaheerd
Golestan, northern Iran, January 2005

[edit] Taxonomy

Mesopotamian Crow Corvus cornix capellanusPhoto by Jos StratfordIran, December 2011
Mesopotamian Crow Corvus cornix capellanus
Photo by Jos Stratford
Iran, December 2011

This species was formerly considered conspecific with Carrion Crow. The two hybridise extensively in a narrow band where their ranges meet, but the resulting hybrids have reduced viability, preventing more widespread mixing of the two species (it was due to this reduced viability that the two were concluded to be separate species, rather than just subspecies).
Four subspecies accepted:

The subspecies are largely clinal in variation, becoming increasingly pale towards the southeast. C. c. capellanus is the most distinctive of these subspecies, the typical greys of nominate Hooded Crow being replaced by a near white, giving the bird a superficial resemblance to the Pied Crow of Africa, but C. c. pallescens, widespread in northern and central Iran, is an intermediate pale grey. Although most authorities consider Mesopotamian Crow a subspecies of Hooded Crow, a few recognise it as a species in its own right.

[edit] Habitat

Found almost anywhere from coast to moorland, even city centres.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Includes a wide range of worms, large insects, molluscs and crabs, bird eggs and nestlings, rodents, carrion, and human-provided food.

[edit] Breeding

They build a bulky stick nest, usually placed in a tall tree, but cliff ledges, old buildings and pylons may be used. The 4-6 brown-speckled blue eggs are incubated for 17-19 days by the female alone, who is fed by the male. The young fledge after 32-36 days.

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