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How Long Do Crows Live: 4 Natural Threats to The Blackbird

Crow Looking Dignified

Last Updated: May 24, 2022

Crows are upsetting predators that go by rummaging around, creating a mess, making loud noises, and foraging on farm crops. You're more likely to get irritated with them whenever they're around.

A murder, ironically, is a gathering of crows!

If you want to learn more about these scavengers and how long they can survive, keep reading!

Crow Facts In A Nutshell

The mischievous scavenger crow belongs to the genus Corvus including other birds such as ravens and rooks. These birds are all members of the Corvidae family, including bird species like jays, magpies, and nutcrackers. Crows are present worldwide, including in the United States and Canada. You can't find them in Antarctica, unfortunately.

Crows are opportunistic feeders that eat whatever is available and are not picky eaters. Therefore, they can eat grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, rodents, frogs, worms, and even dead animals, earning them scavengers.

Interestingly, these medium-sized blackbirds are known to imitate the sounds of humans.

It's no surprise that some people wish to have them as pets and keep them in captivity. But with the nuisance that they create with their annoying behavior, such as plundering crops, making a lot of noise with their noisy caws, and taking eggs from other birds' nests, they started to think twice about adopting these birds as pets. 

Fun Fact: Despite its notoriety as a pesky animal, the crow is a common bird of Kentucky and quite popular with bird watchers!

How Long Do Crows Live In The Wild?

Most species of crows have an average life span of 7 to 8 years, but some can live longer in the right conditions. For instance, the Torresian crow can live for 20 years in the wild. This is almost the same for the Hooded crow, which can live for about 14 years, longer than the average expected life span of 7 to 9 years.

However, this is usually rare because most crows do not live to 1 year old and die before sexual maturity. 

From a study, 89% of American crows did not survive past their breeding season. Likewise, the Torresian crows, as just one in twenty of them survived their first year of independence.

This could be attributed to the fact that in the wild, these birds are exposed to harsh weather and environmental conditions, natural predators that threaten their survival. The young crows are usually the prey.

Thus, most young crows die before they mature into adult crows. Those lucky enough to survive can live for years, commonly 7 to 8 years. But, Carrion crows differ as they tend to live for 4 to 7 years.

How Long Do Crows Live In Captivity?

When kept in captivity as pets or case studies, the American crow can live for an average life span of 20 to 25 years. They have ample food supply, warm temperature, lesser attacks from predators, and low disease incidence. These factors can lengthen the life expectancy of crows. 

It has been reported that the crow named Tata is the longest living American crow, dying at the age of 59. Likewise, the Carrion crow, known to have a short life span, has been recorded living for about 20 years in captivity. 

Therefore, it has been concluded that crows in captivity tend to live twice their years in the wild.

The Life Stages Of A Crow

Crow

Crows have four life stages - breeding and nesting, nestling, fledgling, and adult stage.

From late March to April, the male and female crows join forces to build a nest and begin breeding. After the eggs are laid in clutches of 3 to 8 eggs, the females incubate them for around 18 days before hatching them.

The male crows supply food and are pretty territorial, protecting the nest from predators during this period. The young chicks are nurtured and fed by the parent crows and other nestlings for 28 to 35 days in the nest.

They begin to fly when they reach the age of fledglings, around six weeks old, but they may still require parental assistance in finding food. Crows have a high mortality rate as young chicks and fledglings because they are vulnerable to larger birds and animals as prey.

If they survive into adulthood and sexuality which occurs between 2 and 4 years, then they develop into predators. 

In other words, they acquire skills and characteristics that enable them to prey on smaller creatures while also defending themselves against predators. This raises their survival rate and increases their life span.

Factors That Impact On The Life Span Of Crows

The life expectancy of crows depends on various factors, so different species of crows have different average life spans. These factors are also why crows in captivity can live twice as long as crows in the wild:

1. Natural Enemies and Predators

When the eggs hatch and the young chicks are released, they are clumsy and sluggish to develop, relying on the adult crows for food while waiting in the nest. These baby crows are particularly vulnerable to predators at this period. Larger animals will always prey on little birds and mammals.

Despite the crows' caution, predators such as snakes, raccoons, ravens, and cats can reach crow nests and eat the eggs or nestlings. This contributes to the low survival rate of crows. However, these crows develop predatory and scavenging skills upon maturity, making it hard for more giant predators to attack them.

When crows develop to the adult stage, they can live for years.

2. Disease Outbreak

Viral infections are common in crows. The West Nile Virus has been known to affect the crow families, especially the American crow, wiping out 75% of the crow population in just a year. 

Because of this virus's high susceptibility, any crow infected with it is known to die within a week, with only a few percent of survivors. Other bird species are also vulnerable to this virus and have been reported to have a higher mortality rate than crows.

Fortunately, the West Nile Virus isn't directly transmitted from crows to humans.

3. Food Scarcity

Crows are omnivores. They depend on plants and animals for their food source. They feed on seeds, nuts, grains, tiny insects, etc. They could also feed on dead animals. However, in cases of food scarcity, these birds are forced to scavenge for food in dumpsters.

While this might help them survive to the following day, it shortens their expected life expectancy. This is why wild crows have a shorter life span than captivity crows. 

Captivity crows are fed higher-nutrient meals and have an abundant supply of them. Crows in the wild must defend themselves and forage for food.

4. Low Conservation Efforts

Most people regard crows as a nuisance and a threat. This is due to their obnoxious habit of scavenging trash, scattering it, and creating a mess. They also steal eggs from other birds' nests, ruin farm crops, and emit loud, irritating caws. These factors contribute to humans' desire for these creatures to become extinct.

Thus, those found foraging on crops are murdered, and fed poisonous feeds to mitigate the adult and fledglings. Their nests have been widely displaced and destroyed in campaigns to exterminate the crows. Nevertheless, these efforts haven't been effective as a large population of crows still exists.

On the Concern Continental Score, the American Crows rank a 6 out of 20, which is pretty low.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can Crows Live Without Food Or Water?

Living species find it hard to live without food and water intake, and crows are no different. The survival rate of crows depends on their body fat. A crow with 10% of its body weight composed of fats can live up to 3 days without food. Those with lower body fat might not survive longer than a day.

Also, because Gregory Burkett cells are composed of water, these cells will dry out and die if a bird does not drink enough. If birds' bodies are not hydrated for two days, then they will quickly become severely dehydrated, reducing their chances of survival.

What Is The Oldest Crow Ever Known?

The crow named Tata happens to be the oldest male crow known. According to his owner, the American crow, Tata was born in 1947 in a Long Island Cemetery.

However, after a storm where he was injured and later saved by a cemetery worker, Tata lived for more than 50 years with the new owner and family. In 2001, it was transferred to a new owner, where it stayed till his death in 2006. He died at age 59 in his home in the Woodstock Hamlet of Bears Ville.

Also, another crow living in the wild has been recorded as the oldest wild crow living for more than 17 years.

Can Crows Live Up To 500 Years?

If you're being honest, any living animal living for 500 years is rare. So, what makes crows unique? Crows can only live for about 20 to 50 years! Living for as long as 500 is a long shot.

Know This! The Quahog Clam is the only animal recorded to have lived for about 500 years, making it the oldest lifeform that ever lived in modern times.

How Long Do Carrion Crows Live?

Carrion crows are among the shortest-lived crows, with most living for about 4 to 7 years. However, some can live for as long as 10 to 20 years in captivity. For birds of this small size, even 4 to 7 is about average - or somewhat above average.

A life span of twenty years is quite impressive.

Why Do Crows Gather Around Their Dead?

Suppose you have ever seen crows gathered around a dead fellow crow and organizing what could be regarded as a burial ceremony. In that case, this could leave you baffled and wondering what's up?

One rationale behind this action is that a crow's death can provide a teachable moment for other crows. Observing the dead crow could lead one to discover the possible cause of death - predators, diseases, or natural causes. Thus, they know better than to avoid such circumstances.


Conclusion

The usual life span of an American crow is 7 to 8 years. Still, other species such as the Carrion crow may survive for less time. Also, factors like food scarcity, predators, parasites, and diseases may play a role in why crows in captivity live longer than their wild counterparts. Some people believe that crows have genetic potential that allows them to live for greater periods, such as 59 years!

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