5 Birds That Look Like Crows (And How to Spot the Difference)

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: June 22, 2023
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Feared as a bad omen due to their all-black appearance, American crows are creatures worth learning more about. These birds are surprisingly intelligent, watchful, and expansive. Some spiritual beliefs point to crows as messengers that bring forth good fortune. But can you tell a crow apart from other, similar-looking birds? Discover five birds that look like crows and learn how to spot the differences between them!

What is a Crow?

American crows enjoy open woodland environments where they can nest in trees and forage on the ground for their preferred food items. Crows are omnivores, so they snack on meaty food sources as well as nuts, seeds, and fruits. They’re found throughout North America and make a distinguishable cawing vocalization. They are all black, from their beaks to their talons. They’re large birds revered for their intelligence (these birds remember human faces — plus, if you’re unkind, you should know they hold grudges!).

5 Birds That Look Like Crows

1. Brewer’s Blackbird

Scientific name: Euphagus cyanocephalus

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Brewer’s blackbird is a bird that nests in shrubs around town and forages on the ground for its main food source: seeds. When the sun is out, so is this bird. At first glance, you may think it’s an American crow but look closely. The feathers on this bird include several colors, including bits of metallic green. You can also spot black, which is what you first see, but when you focus your vision, you can see the bits of midnight blue on this gorgeous, glossy bird. Only the males appear like crows. The females are brownish-black. If you’d like to see more of these birds in your yard, scatter bird feed in your yard because these guys are awkward when perching!

Brewer's blackbird resting at seaside

Brewer’s blackbirds aren’t all black. They include bits of metallic green too!

©2009fotofriends/Shutterstock.com

2. Raven

Scientific name: Corvus corax

The common raven is the bird that most people confuse for a crew and vice versa. This bird doesn’t venture into towns too much and prefers forested environments where it can enjoy a variety of foods. This bird is an omnivore, which means it makes a meal out of small mammals on some days and berries on another. Like crows, ravens are highly intelligent, and scientists have marveled at their abilities when solving complex puzzles. One of the first signs that you’re looking at a raven instead of an American crow is that it’s not surrounded by many other birds. Ravens typically travel in pairs. Ravens’ tails have a wedge-like shape when in flight and their vocalizations are more like a croak than a caw.

Close up portrait of a common raven (Corvus corax)

Crows and ravens are frequently mistaken for one another.

©iStock.com/Tom Meaker

3. Rook

Scientific name: Corvus frugilegus

Rooks are birds that look like crows but if you remember that crows are all black, the rook’s grayish-white face immediately gives it away. Their bodies are black, however, and if you’re peering at one from behind, you may instinctively mistake it for a crow. These birds have voracious appetites and eat nearly anything they can find. Sometimes that means grains and nuts, other times it’s other birds and their eggs, and sometimes it’s dead, rotting flesh that they happen to come upon. As adults, their feathers may be black and blue, and the color of their legs may be black or gray. Ultimately, however, it’s their face and beak that let you know it’s not an American crow.

rook in flight

The rook has great problem-solving abilities.

©Jane Rix/Shutterstock.com

4. Western Jackdaw

Scientific name: Corvus monedula

Western jackdaws are usually seen in the western regions of Europe and in the northwest regions of Africa. These birds like open environments, sometimes along coastal cliffs and sometimes in open pastures. Their plumage is glossy and incorporates other colors besides black, giving it a unique appearance unlike that of the American crow. Some of the colors you can appreciate in these birds when the light hits them just right include purple and blue. Their eyes are pale, their beaks are dark, and their legs are also dark. Look at the colors in their plumage to distinguish them from the American crow.

Animal, Animal Wildlife, Animals In The Wild, Beak, Bird

Jackdaws have distinctive pale eyes.

©iStock.com/Alex Cooper

5. European Starling

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

The European starling has a similar body shape to the American crow and can be found in human-inhabited places like towns. These birds prefer nesting in cavities and forage on the ground for insects, which are their preferred meals. These birds are not native to North America but were instead brought over in the 19th century and have proliferated, becoming well-recognized songbirds throughout the continent. During the winter season, these birds are covered in white spots, unlike the American crow, which remains all-black year-round. Their bodies are stocky and when the summer season rolls around, they sport new plumage that’s glossy with deep jewel tones like emerald, amethyst, and midnight blue.

European Starling perched on a cylindrical post. The bird is center frame facing left. It has a yellow beak and legs / feet. The bird itself has a speckled appearance. Out-of-focus green background.

European starlings have glossy, iridescent feathers.

©iStock.com/chris2766

Summary of 5 Birds That Look Like Crows (And How to Spot the Difference)

NumberBirdDifference
1Brewer’s Blackbirdseveral colors, including metallic green
2Raventravel in pairs, croak call, and wedge look in flight
3Rookgrayish-white face and beak
4Western Jackdawdifferent colors of plumage and pale eyes
5European Starlingcovered in white spots

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/DanielLacy


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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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