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American Crows Building Nests

3-6-19 A. crow IMG_1920Congratulations to Robyn Deveney and Chris Wings, the first Naturally Curious readers who accurately suggested the Mystery Photo depicted the tracks of an American Crow collecting nesting material. As I approached the pictured area, I flushed two black birds who were soon cawing and flying overhead, with a stick protruding from one of their beaks.

Crows are one of the earliest passerine, or perching, birds to engage in nest-building and egg-laying. Crows tend to build new nests each year, seldom reusing a nest from a previous year. In New England both members of a pair are busy collecting nesting material such as sticks, bark strips, weeds and mud, in March. They bring this material back to the nest site, which is typically a conifer, and construct a bulky nest usually in the crotch of the tree or on a horizontal branch. It takes anywhere from one to two weeks for crows to complete a nest and up to six days to lay 2 – 6 eggs. Incubation typically begins in early April.

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10 responses

  1. This is an awesome picture! I love the way the ice is dripping off the branch! The entry is terrific as well. Great information about a fascinating bird. Thank you!

    March 6, 2019 at 8:21 am

  2. Natasha Atkins

    Thanks, Mary. I’ve been watching a couple of crows collecting nesting material. We live in a pretty urban place–I’m going to have to see where these crows are taking their sticks.

    On Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 8:11 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Congratulations to Robyn Deveney and Chris Wings, > the first Naturally Curious readers who accurately suggested the Mystery > Photo depicted the tracks of an American Crow collecting nesting material. > As I approached the pictured area, I flushed two black b” >

    March 6, 2019 at 8:30 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Another wonderful photo…Fun to guess….I love that the crow pair work together on building their nest.

    March 6, 2019 at 8:57 am

  4. Deborah Luquer

    Oh yes, another wonderful photograph.

    March 6, 2019 at 9:37 am

  5. Joan Feierabend

    Thanks, Dian, I actually subscribed to Naturally Curious after you sent me one of the mailings. My guess for the mystery photo was exactly that, crows getting nesting materials. I know those tracks, I’m painting them.

    >

    March 6, 2019 at 2:36 pm

  6. This is an absolutely gorgeous close-up photograph of this wonderful bird! Crows around here in Franklin Massachusetts are plentiful! I love our locals we have about 4 different groups of murders that hang out, not sure if different groups talk to each other or not, or if their particular little click want to dominate the entire area! Ours come when I announce chow time! “Birdies~///~Squirrely’s~///~Food I call out! Once a day I set out about 7-10 piles of bird food varieties including sunflowers seeds and peanuts in the shell!

    March 6, 2019 at 9:04 pm

  7. William Loomis

    Hi Mary,

    I have seen thousands of crows in my life time but only one nest. There are plenty of crows in Ridgefield CT where I live, I get the conifer part, but where should I expect to find a nest? When I see a crow do you know how far from it’s home it is likely to be? Do you have a good reference for crow behavior? Thanks for any guidance.

    Tony Loomis Ridgefield CT.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    March 8, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    • Hi Tony,
      According to All About Birds, Crows usually build their nests towards the top third or quarter of the tree. Books you might get a lot out of include Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays by Candace Savage , In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff and Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff Ph.D. and Tony Angell. If you belong to Birds of North America Online, they have a wealth of information on any and all North American species of birds.

      March 9, 2019 at 7:32 am

  8. Hi Mary, Thanks so Much for your amazing work. I am wondering as a beekeeper if you have a sense of when bears will emerge from hibernation? Thanks! Ben

    On Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 8:11 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Congratulations to Robyn Deveney and Chris Wings, > the first Naturally Curious readers who accurately suggested the Mystery > Photo depicted the tracks of an American Crow collecting nesting material. > As I approached the pictured area, I flushed two black b” >

    March 13, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    • Hi Ben,
      I am not sure where you live, but I haven’t heard of any sightings yet in central Vermont, though it could happen any day. April is typically when they emerge in the Northeast.

      March 14, 2019 at 10:03 am

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