Fish Crow

Scientific Name
Corvus ossifragus
Also Known As
Fish Crow
All of Florida Except in the Southwest
Crustaceans, Fish, Eggs, Grains, Fruit
Life Expectancy
7 - 10 Years
The Fish Crow

Photo 89557275 © keyojimbo, CC BY-NC

Fish Crow conservation status - Least Concern

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The Fish Crow in Central Florida

The fish crow (Corvus ossifragus) is a highly adaptable corvid species found throughout the southeastern United States. As an omnivorous generalist, the fish crow thrives in close proximity to humans across a variety of altered habitats.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of fish crow biology, behavior, ideal conditions, and management strategies specific to Central Florida.

Appearance and Identification

Fish crows can be distinguished from the near-identical American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) based on size, voice, and subtle physical differences

Adult Fish Crow

Photo 200480775 © Michael E Drummond, CC BY-NC

Adult Fish Crows

  • Size: Fish crows reach around 17 inches (43 cm) long with a 33 inch (84 cm) wingspan. Weight ranges from 11.2-21.4 oz (316-606 g).
  • Plumage: Adults display all-black plumage with violet and green iridescence on the wings, tail, and back. The throat hackles appear looser than the American crow.
  • Bill: Shorter and more rounded bill compared to American crows.
  • Legs: Pinkish legs and eye ring.
  • Voice: Nasal “ah-ah” calls and descending “uh, uh” notes.
Juvenile Fish Crow

Juvenile Fish Crows

  • Size: Hatchlings are altricial, weighing around 2.5 oz (71 g) at birth with closed eyes and minimal down feathers. They fledge at around 5 weeks old.
  • Plumage: Juveniles have sooty black plumage overall. The neck and head feathers have a brownish cast.
  • Legs: Pink skin on legs and eye ring.
  • Voice: Higher pitched “eh-ah” begging vocalizations.

Maturation Rate

Fish crow chicks are altricial at hatching but grow rapidly, attaining flight feathers by 3-4 weeks old. They become independent of parental care around 35-45 days after leaving the nest but remain socially associated. Sexual maturity occurs at 2 years old.

Habits and Behavior

Fish crows are highly social, forming large winter roosts and small family groups during breeding season. They are active throughout the day, often seen strutting on the ground in search of food. Fish crows engage in fascinating cooperative breeding behaviors and raucous communal roosting displays.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Fish crows reach sexual maturity by 2 years old. The breeding season lasts from March to July with peak activity in April and May. They have one brood per year with average clutch sizes around 4-5 eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 16-18 days before they hatch. Both parents feed the young, which fledge around 33 days after hatching.

Fish crows may occasionally engage in cooperative breeding where previous offspring or additional mates help raise chicks at the primary nest. Lifespans in the wild average 7-10 years.