Last Updated: March 2, 2023
Many factors control the life expectancy of crows in the wild, so most of them live for seven to eight years.
So, how long do crows live as pets?
Captivity crows have a different story because the oldest crow, Tata, lived for 59 years. No expert proved this story, but many believe the merits of life in captivity boost longevity.
As we scrutinize various reports to figure out how long male and female crows live, we have to look at the behavior and habitats of the wild bird. Here's why crows survive.
Why Crows Are Everywhere
Crows inhabit different habitats and adapt to environmental changes fast. You find them in riparian land, savannah, agricultural fields, grasslands, or suburban areas. You see them foraging for grains, nuts, and seeds in orchards and farmlands.
They love exploring fields close to forests and woodlands where they can roost at night. Additionally, the nesting or roosting grounds are usually close to food sources.
This species is not a picky eater as it eats whatever is available, even if it means scavenging or looking for food in a trash can. This omnivore eats grains, fruits, frogs, rodents, dead animals, and insects. Some birds fly to the coastal strip or marshlands looking for seafood.
Crows survive when food is scarce because they hide excess food in trees or bury it in the ground and cover it with foliage.
People keep American crows as pets because they can mimic speech which makes them fascinating. Others keep them captive to hunt them as a sport.
Why Wild Crows Die Young
The crow is in the same genus as ravens and rooks. The three species belong to the Corvidae family. When people talk about a crow, they may be referring to the pied crow found in Central Africa, the hooded crow common in Europe and North Africa, or even the carrion crow that inhabits Europe and East Asia.
The point is, there are so many species. In this article, we want to focus on the American crow found throughout North America except for Antarctica and some sections of Canada.
In general, birds do not live as long as man. Most of them do not even attain half of the life span of a human. To hear of a bird that lived for 59 years is quite interesting because the average age is seven to eight years. Here are the reasons for this low life expectancy.
The Love-Hate Relationship With Humans
To some, these avians are the most intellectual birds, and they have stunning, glossy plumage. To others, they're noisy and raid nests to steal bird eggs.
Many want to remove the crow from agricultural fields and neighborhoods because it is a nuisance. Some poison its food to eliminate adult crows and destroy the nests before the eggs hatch. When you have such avians on your property, you wonder when they will ever leave.
Sometimes, people get tired of them and destroy nests to remove crows from recreational sites because they scatter garbage. None of these measures have reduced the population significantly, so the crow is still winning.
Read Also: How Long Do Sparrows Live?
Crows are predators that eat birds and small mammals. However, the food chain continues, and crows become food for other animals. Adult American crows face fewer attacks compared to crow eggs and young crows.
This species avoids dense forests where predators like the peregrine falcons, golden eagles, great-horned owls, coyotes, and red-tailed hawks lurk. But, these predators aren't always lucky because crows are very defensive and can turn on the attacker.
The West Nile virus can kill a crow in one week. The susceptibility of this species makes it the bioindicator for the world to track how this virus spreads. The first cases reported in North America were in 1999, and the crow population reduced drastically.
Birds are hosts, and a mosquito transmits the virus to other birds when it bites an infected bird.
Lack Of Conservation Efforts
Since this species is everywhere in North America, conservationists may not see the need to worry about its population compared to other species that only have a few dozen or so birds.
Additionally, it enjoys protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918, which even prevents people from hunting and capturing it to keep it as a pet. But, people still ignore this law and look for ways to eliminate this species.
Let us look at the nesting stages to understand why most die within the first year after hatching. The female lays between 3 and 8 eggs and incubates them for 18 days. As the female does that, the male protects the nest and brings food for the female throughout this period. In most cases, not all the eggs laid survive.
The chicks stay in the nest for between 28 and 35 days, where the breeding pair brings food to them. Fortunately, the young crows from the previous breeding season assist the parents in raising nestlings. However, they face attacks from predators like cats, snakes, and ravens.
The hatchlings that survive enter the fledgling stage when they learn how to fly and basic skills to help them get food, but despite surviving, some fledgling crows die before their first year. Hence, the crow has a mortality rate of about 50%.
Some die when they separate from their parents before becoming fully independent, while others die because of environmental conditions.
Birdhub Talk: There is another bird that is often confused with our crow buddies. Learn about them in our special comparative post here -- Raven Vs Crow: Distinguishing Marks That Split Them Apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can crows live 100 years?
No, there are no reports of crows that lived 100 years because the oldest recorded bird was a crow named Tata, a male crow that lived for 59 years. This age remains unverified except for a comment from an ornithologist who attributed the remarkable age to its life as a captive bird that was safe from predators and diseases affecting wild birds.
The Cornell Lab notes that the oldest was a wild crow in Washington state, aged 17 years and five months. It corroborates the Animal Ageing report that an American crow lives a maximum of 20 years in the wild. However, there was an American crow aged 29 years and a half, while another was three months shy of living for 15 years.
What is the average lifespan of a black crow?
Since the cape crow, also called a black crow, belongs to the same genus as the American crow, its life expectancy is the same as other crows, between seven and eight years.
What is the longest-living crow?
Tata, the 59-year-old bird, was the oldest crow. However, there are no records to verify this bird was the longest surviving crow for it to contribute to raising the life span of this species.
So, how long do crows live?
The lifespan of crows is about 8 years. Several wild crows lived between 14 and 29 years in the wild.
Fledglings face predators like snakes and raccoons, while hawks and falcons attack adult birds. The ones that survive face the threat of the West Nile virus. Additionally, humans destroy nests and poison food because this species scavenges in the garbage and eats eggs and nestlings in birdhouses.
Lastly, the crow is one of the most common species in the United States because it survives no matter how much humans attempt to eliminate it.
Read Next: Baby Crows - what they look like and how they are raised