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Fish Crow - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Joe Bellantoni
Clearwater, Florida, USA, November 2003
Corvus ossifragus


L. 15 in (36 - 41cm)
Entirely black plumage with squared-off tail.

Best identified by voice (but beware that American Crows have a begging call in breeding season that is quite similar).

Fish crows also appear as if they have shorter legs when walking. More dramatically, when calling, fish crows tend to hunch and fluff their throat feathers

Similar Species

Visual differentiation from the American crow is extremely difficult and often inaccurate. Nonetheless, differences apart from size do exist. Fish crows tend to have more slender bills and feet. There may also be a small sharp hook at the end of the upper bill.


This species occurs on the eastern seaboard of the United States from the state of Rhode Island south to the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. Also along the Mississippi and adjoining rivers north to Kansas and Missouri. Expanded about 150 miles inland north to central New York state.
Common in its range, abundant in Florida.


This is a monotypic species[1].

The latest genetic testing now seems to indicate that this species is close to both the Sinaloa Crow, (Corvus sinaloae) and the Tamaulipas Crow, (Corvus imparatus) and not as close to the American Crow, (Corvus brachyrhynchos) as outward signs would suggest.


Follows many river systems inland for quite some distance. Coastal marshes and beaches are frequented, also rivers, inland lakes and marshes, river banks, and the land immediately surrounding all.



Fish Crows forage in almost all habitats and eat everything from garbage to small animals, seeds, and fruits.


Nest in trees most of the time and are quiet and hard to find during the breeding season (March to June). Lays 2 - 6 eggs.


Migration poorly understood but seasonal movements to rich feeding locations common.


Has a more nasal call than American Crow

Listen to voice clip
Recording © by Joseph Morlan
Piermont, New York, 16 October 2022


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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