Carrion crow

Carrion crow

©Chris Maguire

Carrion crow

Scientific name: Corvus corone
The all-black carrion crow is a mostly solitary bird and does not nest in colonies like the similar rook. Unlike the rook, it has a black bill and bare legs. It can be seen almost everywhere.

Species information


Length: 47cm Wingspan: 98cm Weight: 510g Average Lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status

Common. Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December


The crow that we are most familiar with is the carrion crow. It is completely black and makes a hoarse, cawing sound.carrion crows make big nests out of twigs, rags, bones, and anything else they can find, which they hide in tall bushes; they do not nest in colonies like rooks, but are mostly solitary. Carrion crows are birds of farmland and grassland, but are extremely adaptable and will come to gardens for food, often seeming to be quite fearless. They feed on dead animals (as their name suggests), invertebrates and grain, as well as stealing eggs and chicks from other birds' nests. Although now classed as a separate species to the similar hooded crow, the carrion crow can interbreed with its cousin, and hybrids occur where their ranges cross.

How to identify

The carrion crow is all-black, with a glossy sheen. Unlike the Rook, it has a black bill with no bare patches, and does not sport any feathery 'trousers' on its legs. It is smaller than the Raven and has a square-ended tail.


Widespread, but absent from the north-west of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Did you know?

A good way to decide if a black crow is a Rook or a carrion crow is to use this simple verse: 'A rook on its own is a crow. A crow in a crowd is a rook.' This is because carrion crows are mainly solitary birds.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.