American crow nesting ecology 101

*This article was updated and renamed from Everything you want to know about crow nests on April 14th, 2020.

Spring marks one of my favorite times of year. Cherry blossoms abound, the rain smells sweet and the birds get busy putting their carpentry skills to good use. In fact for me, there’s nothing more iconically spring than watching the silhouettes of crows with bill loads of timber or soft material dot the skies as they shuttle back and forth to their nest trees. Like a townhouse development, these construction projects are over in the blink of an eye and soon, their bill loads of twigs will be replaced by food for their mate and, eventually, their insatiable young. Watching your local nest is both a great way to learn more about your neighborhood crow family, and avoid unpleasant conflicts with protective crow parents.  Whether you’re years into this tradition or just getting started, there’s always more to learn and enjoy!

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Nest site selection, construction, and reuse

Nest construction is initiated anytime from early February to late April, depending on the region.  In Washington, nest construction generally kicks of by the second week of March. Crows will nest in an astounding array of places, depending on where they live and what’s available.  In Seattle, I see them nest anywhere from the eaves of skyscrapers, to the crooks of well concealed tree limbs, to within reach in saplings that are struggling to support their weight. In areas where appropriate trees are unavailable they may even nest right on the ground!¹ How crows make their precise nest site selection is unknown, but most commonly in the PNW, nests are placed close to the trunk in a fork or on a horizontal branch in the top third of a conifer.

Both the male and female participate in building the nest. In areas where auxiliary helpers are present, helpers may also contribute to gathering nesting materials and may add these materials themselves, or leave for the female to work in.

If trees are abundant, the nest exterior is constructed mainly from twigs pulled from live trees.  In areas where such materials are in short supply, nests may be composed of as much as 50% grass and other plant stems.² After the bulk of construction is complete, they’ll line the cup of the nest with soft materials like grass, bark, moss, flowers, mud, cow dung, roots, paper, fabric, fur, etc. Fur may be found or collected from live animals, as this large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) demonstrated on a panda at the Beijing Zoo in 2015.  Contrary to the news anchor’s fears, this would not have been painful for the panda. 

It takes 1-2.5 weeks to finish a nest, though second attempts can take as little as 5 days in areas where helpers are present.  A new nest is usually about 1.5 ft across and 8-10 in deep. The life of a typical nest is only about 10 weeks (1-2.5 weeks of building, 6 days of laying, 20 days of incubating and 4 weeks of nestlings) though they are hardy structures and can remain intact for years. After the young fledge, the crows will not return to the nest. Generally speaking, crows will only use a nest once, though the occasional observation of a pair repairing and reusing an old nest have been reported across the country. More often it appears that if they are going to reuse a nest site, they will build on top of an old nest, particularly in areas where nest trees are especially sparse like downtown Seattle. This also appears to be more common in the Midwest.

Eggs and nestlings

Egg laying may begin immediately, or up to a week after the nest is complete.  Crows, like nearly all birds, have a single ovary and oviduct and can only lay one egg a day.  In some cases they may even skip a day or two between laying. Crows generally lay a clutch of 4-5 eggs, but nests with up to 9 eggs have been observed, though it’s possible this was the result of a second female laying in the same nest.³  Females will usually start incubating the nest once the third egg is laid. To aid with incubation, females develop a patch of featherless skin on their underside called a brood patch.  Brood patches are common in birds, and generally only occur on females but observations of male crows with brood patches have been reported. Only female crows incubate, though eggs may be briefly “incubated” by helpers.

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Common raven eggs left | American crow eggs right

For a couple of days before the full clutch is laid, the female will sit next to the nest and give begging calls.  This behavior continues even after she starts incubating, which in Seattle is most often the explanation for begging calls emanating from nests during April. Both her partner and helpers will bring her food, usually 2-4 times an hour. She may hop off the nest to help chase away threats, feed, preen, or stretch, but generally doesn’t leave for more than a few minutes.

The eggs will start hatching after about 15-20 days of incubation.  Since the female starts incubating before the full clutch is laid, crows exhibit asynchronous hatching, where not all the young hatch on the same day. In other species of birds like mallards, even though the eggs were laid days apart, the young all hatch within a few hours of each other because the female waited to start incubating until only after all the eggs were laid.

Like other songbirds, crow chicks are altricial and nidicolous, meaning they hatch blind and helpless, and will remain in the nest for many days after hatching.  Ducks, chickens, quails, etc. all produce precocial, nidifugous young which hatch sighted, covered in downy feathers, and ready to follow their parent(s) away from the nest within a few hours.

baby crow

Once the eggs start to hatch the female will continue to brood the nestlings continuously for the next couple of weeks.  Once the nestlings are more developed and covered in feathers, she will brood less and less often and transition mostly to food provisioning.  Nestlings appear to be fed primarily invertebrates, but their diets vary depending on local resources.  For the first couple of weeks after hatching, nestlings are fed about every 30min by parents and helpers, if they are present. After about 4 weeks the young will fledge (leave the nest permanently). Prior to fledging you may see the nestlings sitting on the rim of the nest and flapping around awkwardly.  Not all fledglings are flighted at the time of leaving the nest, so take care not to assume young have simply fallen out. After the chicks fledge, they remain in the care of their parents for the duration of summer, and will continue to be fed for about 4 months.

Differences among corvids

Crow, jay and raven nests are similar in shape and choice of materials and mostly differ in overall size. The main standout are magpies,  which build incredible domed-shaped nests the size of a large beach ball.  The nests require so much material that they can take as much as 40 days to build.  Japanese jungle crows are another species of note, as they have a (relatively) new and problematic habit of building nests out of wire hangers and causing massive blackouts.

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A Jungle crow nest in urban Japan. Photo: Götz

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The magpie’s nest is the big clump in the middle of the tree.

Avoiding conflicts

Most breeding related dive bombs occur as the result of a person being too close to a fledgling, but some crows get feisty around their nest too. Physical contact between birds and people during these altercations are rare, but can happen and might hurt. In areas where crows are less persecuted (like cities) they tend to be more aggressive than their rural counterparts. If you know where a nest is and can avoid it, do so and save everyone the aggravation. Otherwise a good strategy is to invest in an umbrella you don’t care about.  It’s a simple and inexpensive solution that protects both yourself and the legacy of recognizing that outdoor spaces are shared space between ourselves and wildlife.

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Crows build their worlds on our backs.  We might as well lean in and appreciate the joys of watching nesting birds!

Have more questions? Let me know in the comments!

 

  1. Gross, A. O. (1946b). “Eastern Crow.” In Life histories of North American jays, crows, and titmice., edited by A. C. Bent, 226-259. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 191
  2. Good EE. (1952). The life history of the American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos Brehm. Phd Thesis, Ohio State Univ., Columbus.
  3. Peck, G. K., and R. D. James (1987). Breeding Birds of Ontario: Nidiology and Distribution. Volume 2: Passerines. Miscellaneous Publications of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Most of the general information was sourced from:

  1. Verbeek, N. A. and C. Caffrey (2020). American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi-org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/10.2173/bow.amecro.01

183 Comments

Filed under Birding, Breeding, Crow behavior, Crow life history, Crows and humans

183 responses to “American crow nesting ecology 101

  1. I live in Uk by sea, I feed crows every morning walking our doggies, one crow wait for me sits on my head every morning waiting for his bread takes it out my hand, only one who do this, I’m so pleased he trusts me to do this, people think its wonderful seeing wild crow doing this, I call him Colin my crow 😂😂

  2. In Saecula Saeculorum

    Gale force winds in UK recently, makes me wonder how birds cope at night – especially Crows, my favourites. I noticed a bare tree with 3 nests & many Crows yesterday; hope they’re all hanging in there! That it’s not as fragile as it looks from down here..

    • Hi Gale, so as a general reminder to everyone: crows only sleep in nests when incubating young. Otherwise they don’t which means they have lots of sleeping options depending on the weather. For winds like that my guess is they seek out the densest trees possible and nestle close to the trunk.

  3. Jane Faraday

    Last week I watched two crows building a nest over some days. Today there is no sign of them. Could they have thought better of it?

    • It does happen that they either decide that a spot just wasn’t quite right and start over somewhere else, or that they weren’t really building and were instead just caching nesting material.

  4. We have many rooks nesting where I live. Nearly 40 nests this year, but one pair nested about 60 yards away, by them and after a few days the other rooks started to attack them, and especially their nest, stealing the twigs. In a couple of days the nest, which was quite large, had been totally destroyed. By lunchtime today it was completely gone. Do you know why this would have happened?

    • You know, I feel like someone on twitter was asking me the other day about whether it’s true that rooks will steal from and destroy their neighbors’ nests. I guess it is! I’m not sure why they do it, but my suspicion is that it’s just competition rearing its ugly head.

  5. Jessica

    do crows instinctively build empty nests the first few years as i know of some at only 2 years old building nests but I read they usually don’t bear eggs until after 3 years old or even later

    • Hmmmm. You know, I don’t know. I have heard of unmated captive birds doing this but I have never seen it with wild birds. I’ll look into it further.

    • Morag

      I live in Scotland and have been watching a pair of crows for 3 years now who have built a nest in my birch tree. For the first two years they built a nest (building on the one from previous year). However they did not raise any young. When winter came one of the crows stood guard over the nest daily.
      This year they once again built on the previous nest but the good news is that the female has been sitting in the nest constantly for the last week so l assume she is incubating eggs at last. I’m looking forward to her young hatching.

  6. Pam

    We have a crow’s nest in a blue spruce tree in our yard. The bird in the nest crows constantly. Another bird comes and goes and sometimes a third comes and there is a huge crow fight. Is this normal?

    • Yup! Sounds like the female is begging from the nest which is attracting another bird (probably a male) to the area and then the principal mate is chasing them off. Normal crow behavior!

  7. Cath

    I love feeding “my” corvids. My street has only palm trees so most of the birds hang out in more forestry parts of the neighborhood, which is great, since I can’t be feeding a whole murder haha. My regulars are three crow and one scrub jay. The crows summon me when hungry and I jump up to feed them, which really annoys the cat. But I’ve barely seen them lately. The jay usually comes by a few times a day and the crows once or twice. But I haven’t seen the jay in over a week. His peanuts go on the windowsill and I can tell he hasn’t been here because the peanuts are undisturbed. The crows I’m only seeing once or twice a week. I miss them!

    Is it normal for them to disappear while nesting? Or ishould I take it as a personal insult?

  8. We were overjoyed to see crows building a nest in our backyard, high atop a spruce tree we can see from our office window. They started in early April (we’re in northwest Indiana right by the Dunes). For two weeks, they were super busy going back and forth to the nest. Now, though, it’s empty, and I believe it’s much too early for them to have fledged and gone. I fear something got them. My son flew a drone up and indeed, the nest is empty. I’m guessing they’ll never return to it, either.

  9. Jess smith

    We have crows which nest yearly in our garden but one of the pair appears to have disappeared. The mate spent a day “shouting” and then also disappeared but a few days later it returned and is sitting on the nest. Is there any chance it can hatch and rear young alone?

  10. Pauline Grant

    Hi I live in Scotland and had a carrion crow which I fed since moving in 15 years ago. He loved cheese, sausage, peanuts, chips and bread. I called him Duncan because he dunked his bread in the water dish waited a minute or two, depending who was around, then ate it. He was a wonderful father and always allowed the female, who was more timid than he, to eat first before he ate anything. He walked like John Wayne and exceptionally intelegent. He used to walk around the garden if I was working there to see if I was going to feed him and of course I did , haha. Very sadly I haven’t seen him or her for 6 weeks and fear they have passed away. I think he was about 20 would that be a normal life for a well fed wild crow?

    • Above average, 14-17 is more common. He was a lucky crow indeed, and I’m sorry you’ll be missing your friend. It seems silly to others but it’s quite hard to lose them.

  11. DEBRA A YOST

    Do you think the babies will fall directly below their nest (or kinda fly) ? My neighbor has 4 labs that I worry will kill them if they find them.

  12. Ian

    Its end of may im north of Boston Ma. In a town on the coast. Ive seem to attracted a new friend which everday ive seen this same bird everyday’defenite large crow’ just within the last day im seeing small black birds of a few in same area. Any advice or helpful info? Thank u

  13. Suzanne Ludwig

    Some type of bird just attacked the crow’s nest in my backyard…chaos ensued! A lot of distress calls and crow’s flying off after the predator..What type of bird typically does this?? In all the confusion, I couldn’t see who the culprit was!!!

  14. Shawn

    Thank you for this article!
    I’ve been watching a particular tree for years now. At first I thought the “crows” were after Maple twigs, but in a photo I took this morning the leaves are more beech shaped, from a tree I’ll have to type at some point. The birds steal away branches two to three times their body length, but half the diameter of a pencil, as you’ve described. (I live in south central Pennsylvania. ) What interested me about this was the number of birds, but also squirrels, both of which regularly harvest material from this one particular tree. At times it has been so furious that I have wondered whether the tree would suffer irreversible damage…

    Thanks again!

  15. Margaret OLoughlin

    Thank you for that…I love Crows…

    • deeber_98372@yahoo.com

      Thank you for having me on your mailing list. Love my crows as they keep the Hawks & Eagles away from my 6 hens. What I DON’T LOVE is when they took the baby robin who just fledged from it’s nest …..:( Gosh I cried as I watched them grow right outside my computer window, just 7 feet away 😦

  16. Elizabeth

    Hello!

    I am in Queensferry, just north of Edinburgh, Scotland and moved into a new flat in March. I have had an exciting few months hearing, and occasionally seeing, some jackdaws building nests I think in my roof (I heard noises and sent a friend up to the attic who saw “a bird”). The squeaks and chirps have over the months progressed to more adult sounding crow squalks and I’m hoping that means a successful breeding season for all! I’m a total newbie to any of this and am now hooked.

    This might be a silly question, but I’m concerned not too bother them too much – I have some DIY I’d like to get done including drilling holes in the walls, right under where I think the nest is. Judging by what you’ve written above, the birds might be out and about during the day and a bit of noise won’t freak them out too much?

    Also I haven’t been up there since I’ve known they might be there, when do you think would be safe? I’m keen to see the nest they have built!

    I feel a bit daft asking these questions haha, but I’d just like to do the right thing!!

    Thanks

    Elizabeth

  17. Notorious

    In my house outer open space there was a crow may be injured, we try to catch it and put at the top of shade so they (other crows) can help him but instead now they are hitting us on head. I need solution to stop them

  18. Clive R Barlow

    Hi from The Gambia – does anyone have experience of crows giving feeding water to their chicks &/or any video grabs of chicks being fed thanks &- bws CliveRB

  19. Naso Stankov

    Hi , i have a JackDail crow , i found it whit a broken wing ( he cant fly at all ) 7 mounts ago , i did make him a big cage ( tooo many cats are living around me and its not safe to let the crow be free ) , but i’m worried about the winter , i have no idea how to make his cage comfortable for the winter ( the cage is outdoor in my yard , also i need to know what kind of food is the best for a crow for the winter season , can he survive the low temperatures ? I really started to love that bird and i want to do everything needed to make his life better .Thank you in advance .

  20. Joanne Murphy

    Just found a dead baby crow near my house in Ireland. Is it not early for them to breed? Its only January…

  21. Clive R Barlow

    An oppurtunity to re ask ….anyone with any evidence of ads delivering water to their chicks ? In any corvid sp.

  22. Jill Bruce

    Hi, thanks for this very informative glimpse into the world of crows. I feed 4 of them every day – I am assuming they are related somehow but they have been coming to my house for a few years now and know when my car is approaching etc. One of them has a permanently severely damaged leg (we call her/him Hop a Long lol). They will let me get close but not feed out of my hand. They also don’t defecate on my property! For which I am thankful ha

    I have two questions, the first is, how long does the mother carry her eggs before laying them?

    The second is, how do I figure out the relationships between the four?

    Thanks so much! I adore these birds so much.

    Jill

    • Hi Jill,
      The vast majority of birds can only lay, at most, one egg per day. It takes about 24 hours between when the ovum is released into the oviduct and when it is laid.

      The breeding season will be the best time to figure out the relationships. Watch for who is incubating, that’s you female. Then watch for who is spending the most time feeding her and guarding the nest. That’s the male. Everyone else will be an auxiliary bird, which may or may not be related. Enjoy the crows!

  23. Fiona J

    Hi, Although crows have always liked my patch of mainly conifers, this year they have built a housing estate. I can count 10 or 12 nests without really trying. You are right they are fascinating to watch. Is it safe for me to put my 4 much beloved pet sheep in the field in which the trees are? Will the crows attack my sheep? I don’t have lambs.

    • Hi Fiona, where in the world are you located? I’m wondering if what you are seeing are rooks, which would make more sense since they nest in colonies. Whether you are dealing with ravens, crows, or rooks will *slightly* change my answer.

  24. Andrew

    Hi! I know this article is old so maybe I won’t get a reply, but crows have built a nest high up in a ponderosa pine in our yard, and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to make their stay more pleasant. Thanks!

    • Hi Andrew! Main things are to keep pets under your control to endure the safety of the eventual fledglings, and have patience with them when they get chatty in the morning 🙂

  25. SANYOGITA SHARMA

    I have this crow nest on a tall sleek tree in front of my house. While watching this crow couple protecting their nest sometimes from eagles, sometimes from naughty monkeys and once and twice witnessed them protecting it from heavy rains and fast winds. Would see one of them sitting in the nest for long hours assuming they were hatching the eggs for those days. I always hoped to see the crows feeding their young ones once the eggs have been hatched but now I notice that the couple is not seen around anymore. I am worried if an eagle or a monkey harmed the eggs, if at all the eggs were laid by crow couple. For past two days the crows have not returned to their nest. What could be the possible cause. They started making this nest sometime in the 1st – 2nd week of March this year. I am writing from Bangalore, India.

  26. Chad

    So they will only use the nest once a year? Or will they go back to the same nest over and over?

  27. Leslie Farrell

    Hello Dr Kaeli Swift,

    I live in the foothills of Altadena, CA. I have been observing a small family of 6 crows and I have a few behavioral questions:

    In this family, there is also a random crow that sometimes hangs out with them. I can tell he is not from previous broods of 3 years because I can identify him. He has a few feathers missing on the right wing and some of the feathers near that are white. He has no trouble flying. Do you think the white feathers might be because of an old injury? Do crows admit outsiders to the family? Or maybe is this another older sibling that comes to visit?

    For fun, I put out a swallow bowl of glass marbles near where I feed them, just to see what would happen. In about a week, the marbles where all gone, do you think they took them?

    Currently, I think the mated pair are the only ones left in my back yard. Is it typical for the rest of the family would leave them alone at this time?

    It appears the male crow does a tail wag and splay. Is this a part of mating ritual?

    The last few days I think it is the female that has been crying high up in my oak tree. The male will come out of nowhere to scold whoever gets near during the daytime. So I just feed them their snacks and view from a distance to let them do their thing in peace. But, last night I witnessed something I’ve never seen or heard. A Great Horned owl was hooting so I went outside to listen. All the sudden, out comes the crow from the same oak tree screaming and sounding the alarm. I could see the owl’s silhouette as the crow chased him and yelled at him. I’ve never seen this behavior at night, only daytime mobbing of hawks, roosting owls, bobcats etc. This was truly extraordinary for me to witness such fierce protection displayed at night. Is this typical behavior for nighttime and how well do crows see at night?

    Thank you for your time!
    Leslie

    • Hi Lesley here are my answers:

      The white feathers could be from an old injury. That makes sense based on the way you described it, but there could be other possibilities too (ex: genetic). It is likely an unrelated bird, but older siblings coming back after a year or more away is not unheard of. Just rare (in my experience).

      Yes I suspect the crows took them. I don’t know why they do these things.

      How many crows stick around come the breeding season is regionally dependent, and I know less about helping behavior in California.

      Yes, tail wags (and droopy wings) are typical sexy posturing. The female you are hearing is begging for from from her mate while she incubates. During this time she is especially vulnerable and crows will be extra defensive around the nest, so that explains the night time aggravation. They don’t see super well at night though. They can get around if they need to, but you won’t see them traveling great distances.
      Cheers,
      Kaeli

      • Leslie Farrell

        Dr Kaeli,
        Thank you for taking the time to respond!
        I’m going to continue to observe the mated pair and see if and when their “helpers” return. Do you mind if I let you know what happens? Meanwhile, this is an exciting time for me to see what’s unraveling right in my own backyard.
        Leslie

  28. Min Forbes

    Hi
    I have a very big nest, very high up in a tree in my garden. There are 3 magpies and I think 2 crows( could be ravens or something else). They are all constantly fighting and making a massive amount of noise. Who does the nest belong to? Magpies or crows?

  29. John Allen Sykes

    Hi there
    I’m a crane operator and have some crows trying to build their nest on my crane. I’ve sadly had to destroy a few of there attempts because they have decided to build next to the motor and that can be bad for the cranes operations. I’ve tried bird tape to the crows from building in the same spot but they are quite persistent. Any suggestions on what I can do to keep them off the crane?

  30. Abbas Morbiwala

    I had a crow make a nest outside my window, it’s been, 18 days and there were 5 eggs. I woke up today and all the eggs but one which is stuck in a weird spot are gone. So are the crows. There are no cracked egg shells and no rodents or animal’s as I live in an apartment 5 stories above the ground. what might have happened to the eggs and why have the crows gone ?

    Thanks !
    Abbas Morbiwala
    Mumbai, India.

  31. Karen Greene

    Your post on crow behavior is interesting. More so now that I have one in my care. An almost feathered fledgling was found by a neighbor (May 1) who brought it to me. The poor birds legs are askew, one being completely useless. I decided to take on the challenge of raising it given it would have been a quick meal for a fox or other predator. He has all his feathers now and is actively exercising his wings. I assume he will fly one day but have yet to decide if he will make it in the outdoors since he can’t perch. What do you advise?

  32. Christine

    I started ground feeding the birds this past winter. At first all I got was brown headed cow birds, grackles and some doves. Then 2 pair of blue jays and a pair of cardinals. The brown headed cow birds are gone, the rest remain. I FINALLY got a fish crow to frequent, but not until I put up a bird bath. Now he (she?) frequently comes at least twice an hour, sometimes more, rarely less. He is fanatical about washing his food (one of the boat tailed grackles learned this is a fantastic thing and is now washing his food too! But he is the only grackle to do so). My concern is though he washes his food or skins his frogs in the bird bath, most of his visits are just to drink. A lot. Frequently and large amounts. None of the other birds drink like this guy does! He has recently brought his mate here and since they started building the nest, the drinking has slowed down a bit, but not enough for me to stop being concerned he has a significant health problem. He will meet me on top of the carport and ask for peanuts if I have been gone too long and likes being talked to (but not as much as the red bellied woodpeckers haha!). Should I try to catch him and bring him to a good bird vet we have locally or just let n take its course? When he first discovered the bird bath, he would bring wafers or slices of bread to clean, so I am concerned diabetes could be an issue.

    • Hi Christine, some crows drink a lot of water. I Wouldn’t be concerned, especially if that’s the only thing that seems amiss. And don’t worry about diabetes. Crows don’t seem to live long enough for their diets to catch up with them. At least according to what little evidence we have on the matter.

  33. I have been feeding the crows and seagulls I my back yard since the end of February, but now from about the beginning of May, they have all but disappeared. Can you please tell.me why. I am actually feeding them for a friend who is on vacation and the same thing happened last year and she thinks I did something or just quit feeding them, which made them go away and that is not the case. I put chips out for them everyday. Have missed maybe 4 days since February

    • Hi Diane, my guess is that they’re just busy with nests (it is that time of year!). I know the crows I feed near my office can go 6m without seeing me and then not skip a beat when I finally return.

  34. Sharon Hendricks

    Hi Kaeli,
    During COVID-19 quarantine I’ve been alone in my office on the 9th floor, across the street from a construction site. While it was deserted for nearly 1.5 months, a pair of crows built a nest in the construction elevator scaffolding 1 floor lower than me. One baby crow was hatched the very week the construction workers returned. Mama and Daddy crow were very disturbed and would come back as often as they could, but leave whenever the elevator would approach. The baby – being used to these goings on – didn’t seem to be afraid of the elevators, the workers, or the noise. The baby is over a month old now and 3 days ago it flapped out of the nest and onto the scaffolding beside it while Mom & Dad watched on. I returned to work today and the baby is gone. So are the parents. I’m very concerned it landed within the construction equipment or in the street but there has been no sign. About an hour ago a mature crow landed on the nest (might be the Mom, I’m not sure). They tore at the twigs and strings in the nest, then left. Would the mother crow return to the nest if she was feeding the fledgling somewhere else? Or is it more likely the baby is dead? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Sharon, so I don’t really know the answer. In my years of fieldwork I only once saw a crow with fledglings go back to the nest and remove a stick. So it’s possible, but not likely. Did they only hatch the one egg? That’s pretty unusual.

      • Sharon Hendricks

        Yes, only one egg hatched. I couldn’t see if there were more. But I wonder if the stress of the construction going on and the elevators running on either side of the nest affected the outcome. The construction workers did not find the fledgling anywhere on their site so I’m hoping it made it somewhere safe. 🙂

      • I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that too. Once hatched egg doesn’t bode well though for the pair’s success :/

  35. Traci

    I have a new crow friend who meets me every time I walk outside. I leave him a couple of raw pistachios and he seems be trusting because he eats them within a few feet from me. This morning on my walk with my daughter, the same crow and a smaller crow started cawing like mad at me and then, my crow friend dived at me! I did have my hood on as it was raining and I could have been close to where a nest is but doesn’t he recognize me as an ally? It scared the crap out of me! Now I’m a bit scared of him. Any thoughts?
    Traci in West Seattle

    • The smaller crow was probably its or the mate and the kid was nearby, and it was being protective. It’s hard when that happens after we think we’ve become friends, but don’t take it personally. Safety first.

  36. Cynthia

    This article is very helpful to me! We have a nest high in a fir tree, just over our property line. Last month the developer cut all the other trees down except for that one, at my insistence. This morning I saw at least one baby, possibly two, flapping its wings on the edge of the nest. How long before they fly?? And will the parents have another brood? Thanks.

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