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Carrion Crow

A common species of corvid usually seen in small numbers and rarely in arable fields

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Rook or crow? Now there is a question that even quite experienced bird watchers can ask from time to time. Seen clearly it is no contest with the carrion crow (Corvus corone) a much sleeker looking bird than the rook and without the distinctive beak that the rook has.

There is an old saying and quite a true one; "One or two its a crow, many more they are rooks". Carrion crows can get together in groups but prefer to operate in pairs whereas you nearly always see large flocks of rooks. Indeed, in terms of life style the two similar looking birds are very different. The carrion crow is, as its name suggests a scavenger; picking at dead carcasses, clearing up people's picnics, harrying other birds who have food to make them drop it, and yes, they do take young birds from nests. Rooks, however, feed on invertebrates they find in soil.

Along the water front, at Baiter, in Poole they are much more successful than the gulls in finding a shell fish, flying up in to the air and dropping it on to the tarmac of the car park to break the shell. The gulls just have not twigged that you break more shells on tarmac than on grass, mud and stones! Clever chaps crows!


Common Name Carrion Crow
Scientific Name Corvus corone
Species Group Birds Corvids
Status Frequent
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

Large, sleek black birds in open countryside

Identification Notes
  • Although less gregarious than rooks and jackdaws you can still encounter carrion crows in small groups of 6-8
  • Sleek, shiny birds with a jet black sharp, pointed beak
  • Usually found in rough, open countryside and cliff top locations but can be seen elsewhere in various habitats, even gardens 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Corvids