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Crow

   

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Namibia.

Cape Crow Corvus capensis

The Cape Crow or Black Crow (Corvus capensis) is slightly larger (48–50 cm in length) than the Carrion Crow and is completely black with a slight gloss of purple in the feathers. It has proportionately longer legs, wings and tail too and has a much longer, slimmer bill that seems to be designed for probing into the ground for invertebrates. The head feathers have a coppery-purple gloss and the throat feathers are quite long and fluffed out in some calls and displays.

This species occurs in two large separate regions of the African continent. One form ranges from the Cape at the southern tip of Africa up to southern Angola and across to the east coast of Mozambique. The other population occurs in a large area from Sudan, Ethiopia,Tanzania and Kenya in central east Africa. The more northern population is on average slightly smaller than the southern. It inhabits open grassland, moorland, agricultural areas with some trees or woodland in the vicinity for nesting. It seems to thrive especially in agricultural areas.

As far as feeding is concerned, it eats grain and other seeds, invertebrates which it digs for with powerful downward stabs of its long bill. It opens Maize before they are fully ripe, bulbs and fleshy roots of certain plants, frogs and small reptiles, fruits and berries. It takes the eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds and has been known to kill birds of up to a pound in weight (especially domestic poultry). It turns over the droppings of mammals for insects.

Pied Crow Corvus albus

The Pied Crow (Corvus albus) is a widely distributed African bird species in the crow genus.

Structurally, the Pied Crow is better thought of as a small crow-sized Raven, especially as it can hybridise with the Somali Crow (Dwarf Raven) where their ranges meet in the Horn of Africa. Its behaviour, though, is more typical of the Eurasian Carrion Crows, and it may be a modern link (along with the Somali Crow) between the Eurasian crows and the Common Raven.

It is approximately the size of the European Carrion Crow or a little larger (46–50 cm in length) but has a proportionately larger bill, slightly longer tail and wings, and longer legs. As its name suggests, its glossy black head and neck are interrupted by a large area of white feathering from the shoulders down to the lower breast. The tail, bill and wings are black too. The eyes are dark brown. The white plumage of immature birds is often mixed with black. It resembles the White-necked and Thick-billed Ravens but has a much smaller bill.

The voice is described as a harsh "ar-ar-ar-ar" or "karh-karh-karh".

This species, Africa's most widespread member of the genus Corvus, occurs from Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Senegal, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea down to the Cape of Good Hope and on the large island of Madagascar, the Comoros islands, Aldabra, Zanzibar, Pemba and Fernando Po. It inhabits mainly open country with villages and towns nearby. It does not occur in the equatorial rainforest region. It is rarely seen very far from human habitation, though it is not as tied to the urban way of life as the House Crow (Corvus splendens) of Asia, and may be encountered far from human habitation in Eritrea.

Pied Crows are generally encountered in pairs or small groups, although an abundant source of food may bring large numbers of birds. The species behaves in a similar manner to the Hooded and Carrion Crows. In Dakar, birds have been observed mobbing passing Ospreys and Snake Eagles but avoiding Black Kites.

Most of its food is obtained from the ground such as insects and other small invertebrates, small reptiles, small mammals, young birds and eggs, grain, peanuts, carrion and any scraps of human food and fruit. It has been recorded killing and eating roosting Fruit Bats and is frequently seen (sometimes in huge numbers) scavenging around slaughterhouses.

White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis


The White-necked Raven, Corvus albicollis, is somewhat smaller (50–54 cm in length) than the Common Raven or indeed its nearest relative, the Thick-billed Raven C. crassirostris. It has a much shorter tail and a deeper bill with a white tip that is strongly arched (almost as much as the Thick-billed Raven). Though predominantly black, the throat, breast and neck are a blackish-brown in colour, with a faint purple gloss. There is a large patch of white feathers on the back of the lower neck.

It occurs in eastern and southern Africa in open, mountainous country. It is quite commonly found in small towns and villages as long as there are mountains or hills for roosting and nesting relatively near by.

Most of this bird's food is obtained from the ground, but it will take food from trees also. It has been seen to drop a tortoise from a height on to hard ground, preferably on rocks, and then swoop down to eat it, or even pick it up again if not sufficiently broken. White-necked Ravens will also readily take carrion from road kills. Fruit, grain, insects, small reptiles, peanuts and human food are also readily taken and if not persecuted, will forage in back yards and gardens quite openly.

Nests are mainly on a cliff ledge but will occasionally nest in a tree. There are usually 3-5 eggs laid.
Often described as a raven with a sore throat, it has very similar calls to the Common Raven, but with a more husky note. It has a croak like the raven but with a more whispering note added.

   
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