Source for more facts follow NowYouKno
This will be the second time I’m correcting a NowYouKno “fact”. This is not true and the source has a lot of inaccuracies. I would really like to see NowYouKno getting these “facts” from legitimate sources, not random people on the internet. Legitimate sources include primary literature, general academic resources, and actual experts in the field.
Chamberlain documented calls from crows with an often cited study looking at 23 of them. Crow vocal anatomy makes them capable of many unique sounds and combinations thereof (including human speech mimicry), and I’m sure they are capable of hundreds of unique sounds, but the 250 number seems to be pulled from absolutely nothing. The best I can tell this “fact” may have spread from the "A Murder of Crows" documentary website on Nature.com (we worked with this film crew, actually, they are not crow experts or biologists, just interested in making a documentary). Perhaps someone got excited an added a zero? I don’t know.
Okay, now let’s correct some more incorrect information from the source that NowYouKno used.
They are commonly arboreal, but frequently jet-setters. They are opportunistic feeders, diligent scavengers, and feared succubi.
Arboreal means an animal lives in trees…I’m not sure why this is included? Perhaps because crows nest in trees? I have no idea what a “jet-setter” is, so I can’t comment on that. …feared succubi? What?
This is hardly a problem for them, as they can live to be nearly 15 years old.
Well, actually they can live longer than that. Our oldest males were 19 before they disappeared, the oldest documented wild crow was 29, and the oldest documented crow in captivity was 59.
They got their breeding biology correct, hooray! Crows are cooperative breeders (not “communal breeders”) that mate for life (though infidelity in the mating department is not uncommon).
This column will highlight the history and peculiarities of the Crow and its sister types (Ravens, Corbies, Jackdaws, Rooks, and Magpies to name a few).
This statement is confusing. Crow is the general term for birds in the genus Corvus, which makes ravens (Corvus corax), jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and rooks (Corvus frugilegus) all different species of crows. Corbies is not a type of crow, “corbie” is a Scottish word meaning raven, crow, or rook. Magpies, assuming they mean those from genus Pica, Cyanopica, Cissa, and Urocissa, are indeed related to crows.
Okay, let’s break down the “facts” at the bottom of the source:
- Crows are found on every continent except Antarctica.
False! Crows (Corvus) are not found in South America either (other corvids are).
- Crows have an exceptional ability to remember and pick a single human face out of a crowd.
- Crows are far more likely to be found living close to cities and suburbs than out in the country.
False! Crows live in rural habitats just as easily as they do in suburbs and cities. Crows live in more dense populations around human habitats, because a smaller territory in a human area can yield more food than a territory of the same size in a rural area. However, they are only going to be observed more often because there are more humans to observe them.
- Each generation of crows is capable of building on an earlier generation’s knowledge.
True! This is what I study.
- New Caledonian crows are one of only three species, besides human, in the world capable of making tools.
False! While NC crows are amazing tool users that show cumulative tool evolution in the wild, they are certainly not one of only three non-human species that use tools. Off the top of my head I can list chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, many species of macaque, capuchin monkeys, bottle-nosed dolphins and other cetaceans, woodpecker finches, sea otters, black cockatoos, and octopi, to name a few! I’m sure as we continue to observe animals in the wild, more tool users will emerge.
- Crows live with a mated pair, their kids, and offspring from previous years in an extended family.
True! This is called cooperative breeding, and is not unique to crows (we are cooperative breeders).
- Crows have different warning calls – one for cats, and one for hawks, and another for humans – 250 in all.
False! See above.
- Crows are omnivores and eat fruits, vegetables and meat.
True-ish? Crows are omnivores in that they will eat anything under the sun, but their diet consists mostly of invertebrates. So if by “meat” they mean “animal protein” then yes.
I unfortunately clicked on their "10 Amazing Crows Facts" and, well, it would make this post significantly longer to correct all that’s wrong in there….even non-corvid related information such as calling a time period, the Miocene (a geological epoch), an ancestor of crows… I have contacted this page in the hopes that they will be willing to make their page more accurate. It’s clear they love crows, they just need to, um, read a bit more I think.
Moral of the story is please cite facts and information from legitimate sources.