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Northwestern Crow, Jess Findlay
Photo © Jess Findlay

Photo: Jess Findlay
Breeding evidence - Northwestern Crow
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Northwestern Crow
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Northwestern Crow
Elevation plot

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Northwestern Crow
Corvus caurinus
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
0 - 946 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
172 54 257 257
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 0.589 (-0.604 - 1.76)Medium
Canada1973 - 2012 0.571 (-0.628 - 1.76)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
   0.07  0.81
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
 0.87 2.0
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.17  0.45
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce

Characteristics and Range The Northwestern Crow ranges along the northeastern Pacific Coast from northern Washington to southern Alaska, inhabiting the seashore, forest edges, rural and urban settings (Verbeek and Butler 1999). The crow has become numerous in urban settings, but is equally at home on remote islands and coastal beaches. Its adaptability to human-modified environments has enabled it to expand its historical range into areas where forest has been cleared along coasts and rivers.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Northwestern Crow's British Columbian range includes the entire coastal zone including offshore islands, extending many kilometers up several coastal valleys and fjords, including the Fraser, Bella Coola and Skeena rivers, the Squamish River watershed, Bute Inlet and Kitimat Arm. Atlas findings indicate that its distribution has changed little if at all since the publication of The Birds of British Columbia in 1997. Atlas criteria to identify this species and its close relative the American Crow were based largely upon differences in their calls. Areas of possible overlap in distribution are the eastern lower Fraser Valley, and along the Skeena and Nass rivers.

The Probability of Observation model highlights its strong association with shorelines, and indicates it is most likely to be found in the lower Fraser Valley, southeastern and northern Vancouver Island, portions of the central and north coast and southern Haida Gwaii. Atlas findings concur with those of The Birds of British Columbia indicating that this crow is most common below 250 m elevation, with highest abundance in the Georgia Depression.

The biology of Northwestern Crow, summarized by Verbeek and Butler (1999), underscores its highly adaptable nature, nesting on treeless islands, in forests, rural gardens and urban trees, among other places. Its food varies from seabird eggs, intertidal invertebrates, insects, fruit and food scraps. Throughout most of its range the Northwestern Crow forages on shallow, tidal, boulder, gravel, sand and mud beaches and in nearby meadows and along forest edges. It also uses agricultural areas, and has become numerous in suburban and urban settings. On coastal islands, the crow nests as individual pairs in exclusive nesting territories and forages on beaches in loose aggregations (Butler et al. 1984). Some yearlings assist nesting pairs (Verbeek and Butler 1981).

Conservation and Recommendations The Northwestern Crow is a native species that has benefited greatly from the activities of humans and is of no conservation concern. British Columbia has a very high responsibility for the species because most of its global range falls within the province. The possibility of hybridization with American Crow, especially in southern coastal valleys, requires further study (Haring et al. 2012).

Robert W. Butler

Recommended citation: Butler, R.W. 2015. Northwestern Crow in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [14 Jul 2024]

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