The house crow (Corvus splendens), is a common bird of the crow family that is of Asian origin but now found in many parts of the world, where they arrived assisted by shipping. It is between the jackdaw and the carrion crow in size (40 cm (16 in) in length) but is slimmer than either. The forehead, crown, throat and upper breast are a richly glossed black, whilst the neck and breast are a lighter grey-brown in colour. The wings, tail and legs are black. There are regional variations in the thickness of the bill and the depth of colour in areas of the plumage.
House Crow is well named. It is very sociable and noisy once established. This species lives near humans, cleaning streets and gardens, and perching on roofs, pylons and others poles.
It feeds mainly on the ground, but also in trees or buildings. It is often seen near rubbish, slaughter-houses, markets and farmlands, beaches close to fisheries or near touristic complexes. It can travel more than 15 km for feeding.
House Crow is sedentary.
When giving its typical call « kwaa », it is perched with head held forwards, fluffed throat feathers and dropped tail.
During the breeding season, it is seen in pairs, but it usually lives in groups. It may become aggressive against raptors.
Courtship displays consist of mutual preening and bill-rubbing, occasionally followed by rapid copulation. This behaviour occurs in trees.
The House Crow is typically a tropical species, but even in its native range can be found living at high altitudes.
They inhabit any area where humans live and reach highest numbers in dense human settlements where there is plentiful access to garbage, crops and livestock; whereas they are absent where humans are few or absent, for example, deserts and dense forests.
They are noisy birds and can be very aggressive over food or when defending nest territory or young. If alarmed, their insistent “kaaa-kaaa-kaaa”s quickly summon support from nearby crows so the perceived threat is soon mobbed by a throng of shouting and wheeling crows, swooping, dive-bombing and defaecating. Birds of prey and other large birds wandering into House Crow territory are harassed mercilessly. Humans are sometimes attacked, usually during the breeding season when they inadvertently get close to a chick that has fallen from the next, for example.
They frequently exhibit play behaviour, such as aerobatics, particularly as they head for their communal roosts at dusk, which may contain thousands of birds.
House Crows are versatile and abundant commensals of man. They are omnivorous and feed primarily on refuse supplemented by stolen food, carrion, crops, young domestic fowl, nest-raiding and predation of small animals, including terrestrial and marine invertebrates. Like most other species of crow, House Crows have the intelligence to use a very wide variety of additional foraging strategies, such as searching for insects, picking ticks and opening up wounds on livestock, and picking discarded fish from the water surface.
They forage around houses, parks, gardens, markets, among livestock and along the seashore. House Crows are typical Corvids in being intelligent and resourceful, but are unusual in being highly gregarious and in their commitment to life alongside human beings. They can reach high population densities in urban areas, especially within their introduced range and large groups may gather at sources of food. They need to drink regularly.
C. splendens nests mainly in large trees close to human habitation. It pairs for life and is a more or less solitary nester, so several nests may be located in one large tree. The breeding season varies somewhat over the range but usually peaks in March/April to July/August, although in some areas most activity occurs in Oct/Dec. Four to five pale blue-green, brown-speckled eggs are laid in a typical corvid nest of twigs lined with fine material, though wire may be used where twigs are lacking.
House crows Corvus splendens (Vieillot),Control should be accompanied by studies of relevant aspects.
It is suspected that paramyxoviruses, such as PMV 1 may be spread by Corvus splendens.They have also been found to carry Cryptococcus neoformans, which can cause cryptococcosis in humans.