This is the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynches). This bird is very common and seen in environments all over the country. It is in the Corvidae family that consists of Jays and Crows. It very closely resembles the Fish Crow and can be differentiated by its distinct Caw sound that it makes. They eat mainly vegetable matter (corn, wheat, oats, and wild berries), but will take small mice, lizards, snakes, crayfish, fish, as well as the eggs and fledgling birds. They are commonly seen harassing birds of prey and other predators to keep them away from their territory.
These birds are extremely smart and very social. They live mostly in family groups of around 5-15 individuals. Of these individuals young birds will stay around for 2-4 yrs to help the family raise more young before they go out on their own. In the winter these families get together to form large flocks (reaching up to 2 million individuals), some of the roost sites have been the same for 100 years. These birds have been readily seen using tools to get food, and have even been seen manipulating sticks to fit a specific use. They also will stalk birds and follow them to their nests to prey upon the eggs or young birds and will even chase exhausted migrating birds until they tire out and prey upon them as well. They have been observed leaving hard shelled nuts on a roadway until a car runs them over to open them. Some even have learned intricate ways to catch fish. There have also been studies that show that these birds will recognize individuals from other species, such as hawks and people, and tend to remember ones that have done them wrong and communicate to other birds about them. They will, as a group, select the individuals they will harass based on who has done them wrong in the past. So in short they can hold a grudge, so be nice to them if you don’t want to get harassed.
Many of the behaviors I just stated were thought to only happen within mammals. As we find out more and more about many of our bird species we can see that they have a social and intellectual structure that rivals many mammal species. The more we find out about birds the more interesting they become. So the next time you see one of the marvelous birds you can appreciate it that much more.