Orphan Crows: the American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos.

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A fledgling crow rescued from cats.

"Orphan" Crows

Each spring, there are numerous reports of "orphan" crows and requests for information on how to care for young crows. There are several important things that you should know if you find a young crow that appears unable to fly and which you feel needs to be rescued.

1. Under United States federal law it is illegal to keep a crow without a special permit. If you rescue a baby crow, and keep it for any length of time, you should be aware that you are breaking the law and may be subject to federal penalties. In most cases, however, it is unlikely that anyone will bother you, but you should still be aware that if you keep the crow as a pet, without a permit, it may be confiscated by the federalauthorities if it comes to their attention.

2. Fledgling crows - those that are old enough to leave the nest - often are not fully capable of flying and may spend several days on the ground and in low bushes before they are capable of flying with their parents. This is normal. If you should observe a young crow on the ground, don't assume that it is injured or abandoned. Chances are that its parents are very close by waiting until you go away to rejoin the fledgling. The best possible thing to do is to conceal yourself at a distance and observe the young bird. Usually its parents will return. The main menace to fledgling crows is the wandering house cat and if there none in the area, and its parents return when you conceal yourself, the young bird will probably make out just fine.

3. Crows are intensely social animals and if they are not allowed to associate with other crows, particularly with their immediate family, when thery are young, they may never be accepted into "crow society". Being excluded from a family or "cooperative" group is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a crow. You should keep this very clearly in mind when you consider "rescuing" a baby crow. If it can not return to live a satisfactory life in the wild, it will be your responsibility and, since crows can live for 30 years or more, this is a very serious responsibility.

4. If you do need to rescue a baby crow, either because it is threatened by cats or other predators or because they are too young to survive on their own, you should immediately contact a local licensed wilflife rehabilitator. You generally can get the name and phone number of a rehab person near you by calling your local veternarian.

The following link will bring you to a listing of wildlife rehabilitators in all parts of the United States and some other countries. Listing of Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Young crows have blue eyes.

The fledgling crow in the picture was rescued from cats. It is at the stage where it has left the nest, but cannot fly very well. Note the blue eyes, which later turn dark brown as the crow matures.

Caring for orphan crows

The link below is to Kevin McGowan's page on baby crows. McGowan, of Cornell University, is perhaps the leading authority on the life history of the American crow. His page presents the information on this subject in a very comprehensive way. Kevin McGowan
   Cornell researcher Kevin McGowen's web page about baby American crows.

(This section will be added to on a continuing basis. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed. Other parts of the site are also under construction. This site will be continually expanding as the Project grows.)

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