Corvus cornix , Cyprus, Limassol district, Photo: Augusta Stylianou Artist
Corvus cornix (*)
Corvus cornix Linnaeus, 1758
Systema Naturae ed.10 p.105
The Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) (sometimes called Hoodiecrow) is a Eurasian bird species in the crow genus. Widely distributed, it is also known locally as Scotch Crow, Danish Crow, and Corbie or Grey Crow in Ireland, which is what its Welsh name, Brân Lwyd, translates as. Found across Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East, it is an ashy grey bird with black head, throat, wings, tail and thigh feathers, as well as a black bill, eyes and feet. Like other corvids it is an omnivorous and opportunistic forager and feeder.
It is so similar in morphology and habits to the Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) that for many years they were considered by most authorities to be merely geographical races of one species. The fact that hybridization was observed where their ranges overlapped added weight to this view. However, since 2002, the Hooded Crow has been elevated to full species status after closer observation; the hybridisation was less than expected and hybrids had decreased vigour. Within the Hooded Crow species, four subspecies are recognized, with one, the Mesopotamian Crow, possibly distinct enough to warrant species status itself.
The Hooded Crow was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae and it once again bears its original name of Corvus cornix. The binomial name is derived from the Latin words Corvus, "Raven", and cornix, "crow". It was subsequently considered a subspecies of the Carrion Crow for many years, and hence known as Corvus corone cornix, due to similarities in structure and habits. Since 2002, it has been re-elevated to full species status[verification needed].
It is locally known as a Hoodie in Northern Ireland.
Four subspecies of the Hooded Crow are now recognised; previously all were considered subspecies of Corvus corone. A fifth, Corvus cornix sardonius (Trischitta, 1939) has been listed though it has been alternately partitioned between C. c. sharpii (most populations), C. c. cornix (Corsican population) and the Middle Eastern C. c. pallescens.
* C. c. cornix, the nominate race, occurs in the British Isles (principally Scotland and Ireland) and Europe, south to Corsica.
Except for the head, throat, wings, tail and thigh feathers, which are black and mostly glossy, the plumage is ash-grey, the dark shafts giving it a streaky appearance. The bill and legs are black; the iris dark brown. There is only one moult, in autumn, as in other crow species. The male is the larger bird, otherwise the sexes are alike. The flight is slow and heavy and usually straight. The length varies from 48 to 52 cm (19 to 20 in). When first hatched the young are much blacker than the parents. Juveniles have duller plumage with bluish or greyish eyes and initially a red mouth. Wingspan is 98 cm (39 in) and weight is on average 510 grammes.
The Hooded Crow, with its contrasted greys and blacks, cannot be confused with either the Carrion Crow or Rook, but the About this sound kraa (help·info) call notes of the two are almost indistinguishable.
Distribution and habitat
In the British Isles, the Hooded Crow breeds regularly in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and in the Scottish Islands. It also breeds widely in Ireland. In autumn some migratory birds arrive on the east coast of Britain. In the past, this was a more common visitor, and in Hertfordshire was known as the Royston Crow after the town of Royston. The 150-year old local newspaper is still titled Royston Crow, and depicts the bird’s head on its masthead.
The typical lifespan is unknown, but that of the Carrion Crow is four years. The maximum recorded age for a Hooded Crow is 16 years 9 months.
This species is a secondary host of the parasitic Great Spotted Cuckoo, the European Magpie being the preferred host. However, in areas where the latter species is absent, such as Israel and Egypt, the Hooded Crow becomes the normal corvid host.
This species, like its relative, is seen regularly killed by farmers and on grouse estates. In County Cork, Ireland the county's gun clubs shot 23,000 Hooded Crows in two years in the early 1980s.
The IUCN Red List does not distinguish the Hooded Crow from the Carrion Crow, but the two species together have an extensive range, estimated at 10 million square kilometres (3.8 million square miles), and a large population, including an estimated 14 to 34 million individuals in Europe alone. They are not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), and are therefore evaluated as Least Concern. The Carrion Crow/Hooded Crow hybrid zone is slowly spreading northwest, but the Hooded Crow has of the order of three million territories in just Europe (excluding Russia).
In celtic folklore, the bird appears on the shoulder of the dying Cú Chulainn, and could also be a manifestation of the Morrígan, the wife of Tethra, or the Cailleach. This idea has persisted, and the Hooded Crow is associated with fairies in the Scottish highlands and Ireland; in the 18th century, Scottish shepherds would make offerings to them to keep them from attacking sheep. In Faroese folklore, a maiden would go out on Candlemas morn and throw a stone, then a bone, then a clump of turf at a Hooded Crow – if it flew over the sea, her husband would be a foreigner; if it landed on a farm or house, she would marry a man from there; but if it stayed put, she would remain unmarried.
The Hooded Crow is featured on the crest of the North Hertfordshire District Council. it is also one of the 37 Norwegian birds depicted in the Bird Room of the Royal Palace in Oslo. Jethro Tull mentions the Hooded Crow on the song "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" as a bonus track on the digitally remastered version of Broadsword and the Beast and on their The Christmas Album.
1. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).. pp. 105. http://dz1.gdz-cms.de/index.php?id=img&no_cache=1&IDDOC=265100. "C. cinerascens, caplte gula alis caudaque nigris"
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License