By: Ashley Bergeron
Spooky season is upon us, so people want to learn about spooky animals. One of the animals that might be considered spooky is the crow – perhaps because a group of them is called a murder.
Crows belong to the genus Corvus. Other birds belong to this genus as well, including ravens and jays.
In Indiana, there is only one breed of crow: the American Crow. The American Crow is a year-round resident in Indiana, so they stay here during mating and non-mating seasons. American crows can weigh anywhere from 0.7 pounds to 1.4 pounds. Their wingspan can reach up to 3.3 feet.
Crows are omnivores, so they eat both animals and plants. They are also scavengers, so they eat carrion, or rotting flesh. While crows are predators for some animals, they are also prey for others, including are eagles, hawks, owls, raccoons, cats and us humans.
The average lifespan of a crow in the wild ranges from seven to eight years. In captivity, crows have been recorded to live up to 30 years.
There is a crow hunting season in both Indiana and Michigan. In Indiana, the season runs in two parts, first from July 1 to Aug. 15 and then from Dec. 13 to March 1. In Michigan, the season runs from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 and then resumes on Feb. 1, ending on March 31. Licenses are required to hunt crows in both states, and neither of them require a state stamp, a federal stamp, or a Harvest Information Program (HIP) endorsement.
Crows are protected under federal law due to the Migratory Bird Act. However, someone can exterminate crows outside of hunting season for a few reasons: they are causing serious damage to agricultural crops or livestock feed, they are posing a health hazard or they are threatening another animal that is federally protected and is endangered or threatened.
Despite this, it is recommended that if you need to get crows off your property, killing them should be the last option. There are ways to remove crows humanely, such as removing their potential food sources (like open trash or bird feeders); getting a bird feeder that is crow-proof; using a sprinkler system, windchimes, scarecrows or recorded crow distress calls; and covering your crops with a bird netting.
If you’d instead like to attract crows, there are also ways to do that. Some of the ways to attract crows include putting out food that crows would notice (like whole shell peanuts), giving them a place where they can roost, having a birdbath in your yard and being consistent with putting the food out.
On the scale from Least Concern to Extinct, where Endangered rests in the middle, crows’ conservation status is Least Concern, as their population numbers are increasing.
If you want to learn more about crows, you can check out The Crow Society’s website at thecrowsociety.com (not to be confused with the Crow Nation, a Native American tribe primarily inhabiting Montana).