Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

(50 cm.) Glossy black; long heavy bill; square tail.

The Large-billed Crow, often referred to as the “Jungle Crow,” is another member of the family, “Corvidae,” which includes jays and magpies. It is a typical family member in many ways. Like magpies, jays and other crows, it is an omnivore which can consume just about anything. This bird is also highly intelligent, so much so, that it has even been credited with tool-using intelligence. It is an aggressive bird that will readily resort to predation as a food gathering technique. As this bird is an omnivore, one could argue that its predation is unnecessary behavior.

In China, the crow is considered a sign of bad luck. Its close cousin, the Black-billed Magpie, is considered as a sign of good luck and is often called, the “lucky bird.” However, the bad luck tag could easily be attached to both these species as they share some nasty personality traits.

The Large-billed Crow has been tagged as the bird species most likely to attack and kill live domestic chickens. It will also kill other bird species and other small vertebrates such as small mammals.

In addition to the prey items that constitute a large part of its diet, the Large-billed Crow consumes a wide variety of animal and plant matter, both living and dead. This tremendous versatility in diet has allowed this species to be very adaptable and settle in places where they can quickly become a nuisance to local people and wildlife.

As could be expected for such an adaptable bird, the Large-billed Crow is a very widespread species, and is found from eastern China to as far west as Iran. Its range in the south extends as far as the Philippines. Due to its great versatility in diet, the bird has no need to migrate.

During the breeding season, this species builds a platform nest of sticks which is set high in a tree. It seems to prefer fir or pine trees as a nesting site. The female lays 4-5 eggs.

Large-billed Crows often gather in large groups at nighttime roosting sites. At times, especially during the non-breeding season, thousands of these birds can be found at a single roosting site.

Large-billed Crow (Photo by JM Garg)

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