Everything you want to know about crow nests

Spring marks one of my favorite times of year.  Cherry blossoms abound, the rain smell sweet and the birds get busy putting their carpentry skills to good use. Starting early March, the silhouettes of crows with bill loads of timber or wads of soft material dot the skies as they shuttle back and forth to their nest tree. 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. Spotting these nests is both a great way to observe and engage with your local crow family and avoid unpleasant conflicts with protective crow parents.  With a little knowledge and a bit of practice, tracking down your resident crow nest will become one of your favorite spring traditions in no time.

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Nest construction and site selection

Nest construction begins in early March and will continue (as nests fail) through about June. It takes 1-2 weeks to finish a nest after which the female will lay a clutch of 2-6 eggs. Unlike similarly sized squirrel nests (aka: dreys) which are made of leaves, crow nests are made mostly of pencil-width twigs. A new nest is usually about 1.5 ft across and 8-10 in deep.  After the bulk of construction is complete, they’ll line the cup of the nest with soft materials like grass, tree bark, moss, flowers, paper or fur. Once we saw a crow ripping out the hair of an outdoor mannequin, no doubt to use as lining material.


A crow gathers moss off the branches of a big leaf maple to use as lining material.  


This bird toyed with this branch for a few minutes before rejecting it and letting it fall to the ground.  


A sidewalk littered with twigs is good evidence that the nearby deciduous tree is a favorite among the local crows to pull branches from.  I’ve only once seen a crow try and retrieve a branch it dropped, so these are all rejects.  

Crows will nest in an astounding array of places, from the eaves of skyscrapers to the crooks of well concealed tree limbs. They can tower in the sky or be almost within reach. Most commonly, I see them built close to the trunk in the top third of Doug fir trees, but this is, of course, specific to the PNW.  Both partners participate in nest construction. Helpers will aid to some degree but most of the work is left to the parents.


Differences among corvids

Crow, jay and raven nests are similar in shape and material but differ in overall size in accordance with the size of the bird. The main standout are magpies,  which build incredible domed-shaped nests the size of a large beach ball.  The nests require so much material, 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.


A Jungle crow nest in urban Japan. Photo: Götz


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


The life of a typical nest is only about 9 weeks (1-2 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 in a tree for years.  After the young fledge, the crows will not return to the nest.  Crows will only use a nest once, and generally only fledge one brood a year. They will, however, 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.

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. Crows in areas where they are less persecuted (like cities) 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 carry an umbrella or paint eyes on the back of a hat. Crows rarely attack from the front so having eyes on the back of your head can be an effective deterrent!


Putting all this together to actually find nests, is one of the most rewarding moments an urban naturalist or crow enthusiast can have.  Be warned though: crows are wary of potential predators (including people) spying on them and they have a few tricks for throwing you off, so don’t be surprised if a nest location you were certain of turns out to have been a ruse!


Can you spot the nest? 

Have more questions? Let me know in the comments!



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

260 responses to “Everything you want to know about crow nests

  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.


    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


    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!!



  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 .

    • Hi Naso, please contact Stephen at Corvid Isle. Tell him I sent you. https://corvid-isle.co.uk/contact

    • Akil

      Hi, I never knew spring time was when the crows get together. So this time of the year I got curious when I noticed lots of crows carrying small broken branches flying to and fro. I figured out a nest nearing completion just above on the tree visible from the terrace. I also did not know that crows were aggressive if you got close. My intention was only bird watching, however the crows probably got it wrong. Its been constantly attacking me from the past 3 days when I visit the terrace for feeding the pigeons. I now observe the nest from a little far, however I believe it still doesn’t trust me. It waits for a chance to attack me so it can buzz me off.

  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.


    • 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!

      • Iwona

        Dear Kaeli,
        That is a great article, thank you so much! I’d have a follow up question 🙂

        (everything I write here is related to Corvus Cornix)

        Does the lady crow lay one egg at a time or all at once? Do they copulate more than once before every nesting attempt?

        We have a befriended crow couple that have their nest next to our balcony, but its just a little too high to see the inside. This year we saw them mating and noticed that from that moment she stayed in the nest. It has been around two weeks from then, and we are trying to figure out how old the eggs might be. We will be moving out of this appartment in two weeks and that means we might miss the chance to see or even hear the babies 😦
        We have been watching them for two years now. This year they are reusing a nest they have build last year, but they have made it bigger and stronger this time. Last year they had 3 nesting attempts, all 3 around the same area, all lasted for around 3-4 weeks and there were no babies 😦 We’ve had some heavy rains last year and we think this might’ve been the reason. Or some other predator, who knows..

        This year all seems to be going just fine. The male is feeding her and she only leaves the nest to have a sip of water, maybe some food and an occasional flight around the area. They are really great to watch. When they werent nesting they’ve sometimes spent hours sitting on our balcony, stretching, cleaning themselves, watching us 🙂 We sometimes give them some raw meat or peanuts or wallnuts and they have a water container too (luckily there is a river just 500 meters away so we don’t have to worry what will happen when we leave, otherwise we would hesitate to provide them with water..). They allow us to get very close to them, around 50 cm when they see we have meat. They call for each other every time we go out to the balcony with something in our hand. Especially now, as she is always next to us in the nest – she will lift herself up and call for him. Then he comes and takes the food. Sometimes they come both. Really interesting cratures.

      • Hi Iwona, birds can only lay one egg a day, so she lays them over a series of days. A single copulation can fertilize the whole clutch, but addition copulations are possible and happen.

        Really cool that have have such close access to watching nesting behavior! I have never been so lucky

  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 🙂


    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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  28. Min Forbes

    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.

  37. Carol Anderson

    I live in Minnesota. I have a pair of nesting crows and it appears the young have fledged. Do crows ever have two hatches in one summer in my altitude?

  38. Hi I live in Northern California on 6 acres of oak woodland. Recently I noticed numerous clumps of moss ( lichen, I think) on the ground surrounding some oaks. I have been perplexed as to why the moss was falling off the trees. And then this AM I watched as 1 then another and another and finally 4 crows climbed up the branches while pulling away at the clumps of moss and then dropping them on the ground. Are nest building? Eating insects in the bark? IMG_0773.HEIC

    • Hi there! Oh I love when they do this. If it was earlier in the year and you actually saw them holding the moss then it could be for nesting building. But based on the timing and your description it’s much more likely to be foraging behavior. They flick the moss off the trees and then eat the inverts that they find underneath. It’s so cute. Can make a real “mess” though!

      • Clive r Barlow

        Greetings from The Gambia. Did any crow nest watchers this year observe any suspect delivery of water to chicks anywhere .. has anyone fixed a trail cam on a nest of any sp ? Bws Clive

  39. glenda Sutardy

    Hi. I am living in Japan and decided to adopt a Big Billed Crow or Raven family. They have a nest in a pine tree about 3 5ths of the way up and the nest is of sticks in a crook of branches. Beginning with Spring they raised three kids and in the last six weeks or so those have left and it is now just the parents. The fledgelings would fly and hover around the parents crying for food and fanning their wings whilst yelling, but only came down to feed themselves after about five months. I fed them raw pork or chicken, cat kibble and cooked rice with mixed grains every second day but now it is just the adults. They know I am around because they hear my bike brakes squeaking and this is my “call” or so I imagine because if I walk up to the station they always manage to see me and fly down for a chat. The larger one gently rattles and says waah waah and gets quite close these days and I adore him. When this happens we have a chat and a good look at each other and he fluffs up his head feathers.
    I love them and they fly and whirl around when they see me coming often flying alongside me and landing just above my head in trees or on signs as I walk keeping up with me. They have a territory too. It covers a good-sized area bounded by roads. They do sometimes go across the roads but then they move into another family’s territory and trouble ensues. There has been a couple of occasions where there is a big to do happening up at the station, yelling whirling and chasing with loud calls. I think this is juveniles from other groups trying to move in.
    Is it possible for me to send a photo? They shove as much food as possible into their gullets and beaks, fly off, cache it in bushes and hedges and return back and visit me. They would hang around for hours if I stayed.
    I have taken photos and am now painting them.

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  41. Clinton McIntyre

    Hi, I was hiking in the woods after freezing rain, followed by snow a week ago in NW Indiana ,when over a hundred crows flew over and started to rest in the trees around me, with a caw sound I am used to hearing. They were shifting from tree to tree occasionally, and I was photographing them. 3 or 4 began to make the wonderfully eerie rattle call. I also noticed two that had small twigs about 3″ long in their beaks. I thought it was early for nesting-so would these be for tool use? Also got a series of photos of a crow breaking the frozen snow/ice off an adjacent branch, and toss it to the ground. Do they eat snow as a water source, or was he perhaps housekeeping his branch? Thanks!

    • Hi Clinton! It’s impossible for me to say what exactly they were doing. They sometimes break branches when they’re frustrated, but it might have also just been messing around. The rattle call is a female specific call. I’ve never seen crows eat snow/ice but I’ve seen other corvids do it also I assume they do it. They might have also been picking it off to look for any bugs hiding underneath. They’ll often do that with mossy branches.

  42. Lindsay

    There is a new crow nest that just popped up in a tree outside my window. There seems to be 3-5 crows building and protecting the nest. Is this normal? Are there rolls for the non-parent crows?

    • Hi Lindsey, it sounds like your breeding pair has some helpers! This is common in some parts of the US (assuming that’s where you are), especially the East coast. Helping behavior is when sexually immature birds join a breeding pair (often sons from previous years but unrelated birds can be helpers too) to aid with nest building, defense, etc. They don’t do nearly as much as the adults, but they do enough to be tolerated.

      • This is interesting! Do only sons act as helper crows, and not females? How do families determine which offspring will help out and which will join a juvenile gang?


      • Hi Nicole, it really depends! In some populations the majority of helpers are actually female! As for how families choose (if that’s even the case), we don’t have any clue!

  43. Nyla Sunga

    There is a crows’ nest I’ve been watching not far from my house. Recently eagles have been circling the tree (actually several trees that make the nest quite hidden).This morning a large eagle landed on an adjacent tree. The crows tried swooping to get the eagle away but had no success. They landed on the tree close by and waited. So did the eagle. So then the crows flew away and seemed to go back to their nest tree. Very shortly after 2 crows left the nest tree with some large white objects in their beaks. They flew low and in opposite direction from eagle so that it would appear the eagle did not see them. Is it possible they feel threatened and are moving their eggs to another nest location? I am in British Columbia.

    • Hi Nyla, while they are certainly threatened I don’t know of crows to make multiple nests and move eggs. Though some songbirds will do that…

      • Nyla Sunga

        I have read that crows sometimes make ‘decoy’ nests, to confuse owls, eagles etc. I have noticed them being quite coy about keeping their nest’s location secret. The day the eagle was landed on adjacent tree (for hours) 2 crows left the tree where their nest was, flying very low and on opposite direction to where the eagle was, so their departure was hidden from the eagle. They each had something light colored and large in their beaks. Now there seems to be more activity (although I can’t see the nest) in a tree in direction they were flying. Interesting. They are so mysterious.

  44. Dear Kaeli,

    Last year, we were lucky that our neighbourhood crow couple chose to nest outside our window and we could observe all the babies growing up! This year, they’re nesting in a cherry tree close by. I keep hearing the mom (who we’ve named Bonnie) make these mid-volume repetitive brief squawking noises. I assumed these were egg-laying noises (maybe contractions?) because last year she would do this for a couple hours before new eggs appeared. But this year, she’s making the noises all through the day, for several days. I read it might be begging for food, but she continued to make the noises even after recently feeding. What does it mean?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions!

  45. Nat


    Two years ago, I watched crows carefully build their nest outside my window. They hatched 5-6 eggs, and, on the day I thought the eggs were going to hatch, the parent crows remained in the nest. When I next looked out, all the eggs were gone and the crows didn’t return. Under what circumstances do crows eat their own eggs?

    • Hi Nat, I have heard of ravens cannibalising their own inviable eggs, but I have not yet heard of this in crows. Still, that ravens do it suggest crows might as well, we just might not have documented it. Alternately, lots of other animals eat eggs so it’s possible it was simply depredated outside of your watch.

  46. Michael Dalton

    Crows gather on a neighbour’s roof here, around a chimney pot. They are present every morning and every evening for many months, often simply congregating but every time, at least once, one or the other of them hopping into the chimney pot, disappearing from view and re-emerging seconds later. The ‘life’ of a nest being mere weeks, can anyone tell me what are these birds doing every morning and evening for months on end, entering and re-emerging from the chimney pot?

  47. Hi there! Our whole area burned down over a year ago, but we still have many crows, scrub jays and smaller birds around our property. I planted a bunch of rosemary and rock rose around the perimeter that had burned. This AM I noticed that one of my shrubs had all its bottom branches trimmed off perfectly. No evidence of poop, dragging, needles, they just disappeared. Would this possibly be for nest building? The branches were about 1/8-1/4″ size, so I don’t think it would have been anything smaller than a crow. I cannot fathom a ground squirrel or anything else due to the strong smell. My website shows a great deal of the work I’ve done before and after the fire.

    • Hi Monica! So my instinct is that this is not the work of crows because in all my years I have never seen crows pull nesting branches while on the ground. They always do it from the tops of trees. It’s also a bit early for them to be nest building. But In the scheme of things my sample size for this is small, so I can’t say with 100% certainty that it wasn’t them. Still, I think a more likely explanation is a foraging rabbit. Do you see any of those around?

      • Thank you for that! Well, our rabbit population has gone down, but have spotted Jack Rabbits on the wildlife camera. I didn’t think at all they would go for Rosemary, but it’s certainly possibly given the low amount of food out here!

  48. Donna Bedami

    I was feeding a female crow . Then she left will she come back . She was taking food with her.

  49. Hi. Thank you for your interesting blog.
    We live close to a busy rookery and this year for the first time a rook’s nest appeared in an ash tree in our garden. After a few weeks it was quite large and appeared quite sturdy. One day I went to check on the nest but it had completely disappeared; not a single twig left in the tree but a pile on the ground. We’d had strong winds so I assumed that’s what had caused the loss of the nest. Within days another nest was built on an adjacent branch of the same tree. This one appeared sturdy too. Imagine my surprise to find today that the nest had gone completely with a lot of twigs on the ground again. This was weird as we’d had no winds for some time. What could have caused the loss of the nest?

    • I’m not sure Diwali, I’m afraid I don’t know much about the particulars of rook behavior. Perhaps they deconstructed it for use at a different nest site. I’m certainly seen other kinds of birds do that; start to build in one spot then deconstruct and restart elsewhere. But I can’t say for sure that’s what’s happening here.

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