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Carrion Crow

Carrion Crow
Both sexes: Jet black plumage.

The Carrion Crow is a black crow, about the same size as a Rook, but unlike the Rook, the Carrion Crow has neatly feathered thighs, and feathers around the base of the beak. While at first appearance its plumage is black, on closer inspection it has a green and purple iridescence.

In flight, the Carrion Crow has a shorter head than the Rook, as well as having slower wing beats. The tail is squarer in the Carrion Crow, and the "fingers" at the wing tips are less splayed.

Flight Silhouettes & Comparative Sizes
Flight Silhouettes & Comparative Sizes

The Hooded Crow is the same species as the Carrion Crow but is a different race, which can be mostly found in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, though some wintering continental birds may be seen in eastern England. The Hooded Crow has a grey back and underparts and a black hood, wings and tail. The Hooded Crow is the main race in Ireland.

Juvenile Carrion Crows have duller, browner plumage and pale blue eyes; the adults have brown eyes.

Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow
Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow

Scientific Name Corvus corone
Length 45-47 cm  (18-19")
Wing Span 93-104 cm  (37-42")
Weight 370-650 g  (¾-1½)
Breeding Pairs 800000
Present All Year
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The Carrion Crow has many calls but the most common is "kraa-kraa-kraa".


© Jean Roché,


Carrion Crows have a diverse diet: worms, insects, fruit, seeds, kitchen scraps, eggs, and young birds.


A Carrion Crow's nest is built in the fork of a tree, cliff edge or even electricity pylon and is a large construction of twigs lined with hair and bark. It is built by both birds.

The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by the female. The eggs are about 43 mm by 30 mm, smooth and glossy, pale bluish-green with dark brown and grey markings. Both adults feed the young birds.

The two races inter-breed, resulting in Carrion x Hooded hybrids.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April 1 4-7 18-20 28-35


British and Irish Carrion Crows (and Hooded Crows) are quite sedentary, never venturing far from their nests. In the winter, our population may be joined by continental birds of both races.


Both crows are thriving and are considered by some to be pests, particularly by gamekeepers, as they take the eggs and chicks of game birds.