Corvidae – Crows, jays & magpies

The family with the heaviest & smartest songbirds

Known for its remarkable intelligence and adaptability, this family includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and other related birds. These species are highly regarded for their significant presence in folklore and mythology, symbolizing various aspects of human culture across the world.

Corvids are medium to large-sized birds with strong, robust bodies and powerful bills that reflect their generalist feeding habits. They exhibit a wide range of plumage colors, from the iridescent blues and greens of the jays to the glossy black of crows and ravens. Their feathers are often used in courtship displays and play a role in thermoregulation and camouflage.

These birds have a global distribution, occupying a variety of terrestrial habitats, including forests, mountains, deserts, and urban areas. Their adaptability has allowed them to thrive in almost any environment, making them one of the most successful avian families.

Corvids are known for their problem-solving abilities and use of tools. They have been observed using sticks to extract insects from tree bark and dropping nuts on roads for cars to crack open. This intelligence is also evident in their complex social structures and communication systems, which include a variety of calls and non-vocal signals.

Their diet is as diverse as their habitats, consisting of small animals and birds, fruits and berries, invertebrates, seeds, and carrion. Their role as scavengers helps keep ecosystems clean, while their seed-eating habits contribute to forest regeneration.

Social behavior is a hallmark of the Corvidae family, with many species forming large communal roosts outside of the breeding season. These gatherings provide safety in numbers from predators and facilitate information exchange about food sources.

Corvids typically practice monogamy, with many species forming lifelong bonds. Both sexes usually share parental care, and some species, like the Florida Scrub-Jay, exhibit cooperative breeding where non-breeding individuals help raise the offspring.