19th Annual Conference of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, Niagara Falls, NY, October.
THE UNCOMMON CROW: ASPECTS OF NATURAL HISTORY IMPORTANT FOR THE REHABILITATION OF YOUNG AMERICAN CROWS. Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell University.
Although the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a common bird, much of its unusual life history is unfamiliar to most people. My work with individually-marked crows has shown that most crows breeding in central New York are relatively sedentary, remaining near their nesting sites throughout the year. It is likely that most crows do not breed until they are 3 to 5 years old. Instead, young crows remain with their parents for several years and help their parents raise young. Association with the family past nutritional independence may be important for learning and to improve the eventual survival of young crows. Like many birds, recently-fledged crows cannot fly well and often are found on or near the ground. Unlike many other birds, however, crows actively reduce their broods, "discarding" young. Brood reduction is most common very early in the nestling period, but even large nestlings may be removed. Young crows that have successfully fledged can be distinguished by their behavior from those that have been discarded or have fallen from their nests. While discards should be kept and cared for, fledglings should be returned to their families .