Birds – Corvids

Birds – Corvids

Corvids

Corvids

In this article we will see: “Corvids”, birds, diverse and captivating, grace our skies with their melodies. From vibrant plumage to impressive flights, they captivate with endless wonders.

Birds – Corvids

Appearance and Behaviour

In the realm of passerines, where small size is the norm, corvids stand out as giants. The largest among them, the common raven, reaches the size of a buzzard.

Equipped with a straight, strong, and firmly implanted beak, powerful claws, and an uncommon robustness, corvids are prepared for any eventuality. Their flight is heavy and rowing, but faster than it appears, with occasional glides as elegant as those of raptors. Except for a few species that hop on the ground, corvids typically progress by walking in a characteristic manner, slightly swaying and sometimes pompous.

Their wings are rounded at the tips and broad at the base, allowing for respectable wingspan, and the tail, except for magpies, is often squared off. Another morphological feature of this family, which includes ravens, crows, magpies, jays, and nutcrackers, is the presence of vibrissae covering their nostrils. While many passerines don vibrant and sometimes dazzling colors, corvids, on the other hand, almost always exhibit mourning attire, illuminated with bluish or greenish metallic reflections.

Only a few mix gray and white with the traditional black, while nutcrackers and jays prefer a deliberately more cheerful plumage. There is no sexual dimorphism.

In terms of vocal expressions, corvids do not excel either, contrasting with other members of an order that includes some of the world’s finest singers.

Hoarse and heavy cawing or more or less unpleasant chattering are their most well-known calls. However, there are other vocalizations, mainly emitted in intimate moments or only audible at short distances. Finally, it is worth noting that some corvids, particularly jays, engage in imitations purely for pleasure.

Reproduction

Social throughout their lives or only on certain occasions of the year, crows have developed extremely complex relationships and interactions, demonstrating their high level of intelligence. Corvids have a propensity for accumulating, hiding, or simply manipulating coveted food or objects as if they were priceless treasures. For instance, in Brittany, a common raven was observed hiding three-toed gull eggs under the heather. Although greatly exaggerated by legend, the case of the “thieving” magpie is well known.

Curious, playful, and sometimes mischievous, corvids occupy an exceptional place in the avian world. Rooks and jackdaws, in particular, possess a true language, and while disputes can occur within colonies, solidarity and even mutual aid in the face of danger are not empty words. As skilled builders, corvids construct veritable fortresses, which are often used by raptors in subsequent years. Twigs, branches, earth, and wool are used in the construction of the nest, which is usually built at great heights in trees or rocky walls. Magpies, in particular, even add a roof to their nests.

The clutch consists of 3 to 6 eggs with a bluish-green background, speckled with ashy gray, green, and blackish-brown. The female alone incubates the eggs, but both adults participate in raising the chicks, which are born naked and blind.

Distribution

Present worldwide, except in polar regions, New Zealand, and the most remote islands of Oceania, corvids comprise 102 species, of which only 10 reproduce in Europe.

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A final word

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