Male vs Female Crows: 4 Key Differences

Written by Katie Downey
Updated: November 20, 2023
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The differences between male and female crows are not something that will be easy to explain because male and female crows are incredibly similar. In this article, we have uncovered four key differences to look out for or listen for.

It will be complicated since juvenile crows and females can look and sound very similarly to one another. Some males may just be smaller than the typical male. The one true way to find out if a crow is male or female is to run a DNA test on it, which won’t be possible if you are watching wild crows. If you wish to attempt to see the difference on your own, pack a lunch and take your birdwatching gear because it might be a long day.

Crows are the Smartest Birds in the World

crow perched on post in fog

Crows are so intelligent that they can remember human facial features.

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©Pascale Gueret/Shutterstock.com

It’s surprising to many that the American crow is the most intelligent bird. Most figure it’s the eagle, hawk, or raven. Those are all very intelligent birds but not nearly as smart as the American crow. Crows remember when someone was unkind to them and will share it with their family. All of the crows in that family will not be kind to the cruel person.

On the other hand, if a person is kind to a crow, the crow will also share it with their family, and they will all be kind to the person and may even look out for the person. Some have been noted attacking bullies when they went after a child who was kind to them.

Crows are so clever that they even use tools! They have been seen on numerous occasions using sticks to get bugs out of holes in logs and even throwing nuts onto concrete to bust them open. Crows will pick up tools they find in the form of rocks, wire, string, and other useful trinkets.

Here is a crow trying to speak human to its human friend. Proof of how smart they are. This caw also sounds like a female.

A Few Facts About Crows

American crows

A small flock of American Crows (

Corvus brachyrhynchos

) in a tree. Can you tell which are male and which are female?

©iStock.com/Karel Bock

  • Crows remain with their families for five or more years. If the beautiful midnight birds do move out, they stay nearby and frequently visit.
  • Typically, American crows live approximately 10 years in the wild, though some have lived to be 40 years old!
  • Crows are very social birds and sometimes gather by the thousand or even 100,000 in trees and open fields. They frequent just-harvest corn and hay fields. The same crows meet over and over to chat about life and people, or maybe they just need to open up to friends and family every so often. Either way, they love a good conversation!
  • Crows are extremely curious by nature and, though fearful, they are noisy neighbors when it comes to just about everyone.
  • If an animal or other bird is picking on a crow and other crows see it, they will band together to stand up to the crow’s bully and chase them off.
  • Crows make friends with humans when they deem the human to be a friend and not a threat. Many people are mean to crows because they are supposedly ominous and signs of death. That is simply because humans project their fears and notions onto animals that are just living happy, simple lives being animals.
  • Crows may bring a human friend gifts in the way of human items the crow finds in its travels. It isn’t exactly that they are attracted to shiny objects; it is that they see humans with shiny objects and assume we like that kind of thing. They aren’t wrong. Phones, jewelry, watches, and maybe things we carry around that a crow might see are all shiny.
  • Crows are the ultimate tricksters. If they believe a bird or animal to be watching while they store away food for their families, the crow will pretend to put everything in the same spot while the snoop watches but will stick the food under their wing for a moment or keep it in their mouths. The crow has not left anything for the thief except hopes and dreams; then, they fly off to the real place where they stash their food findings.
  • Crows are amazing and make even better friends. You will have to be patient because gaining the trust of a crow takes time. Be sure to check out our other articles on these magnificent birds!

Ways to Tell a Male from Female Crow

Tally Lake

One of the crows perched on the bench is male, and one is female. Can you tell which is which?

©Tiffany Sims/Shutterstock.com

It is far from easy to tell male and female crows apart. There isn’t any one way to use for every bird every time. It is far more complicated than that. It will take time to observe the crows without being too near. You will need a good quality set of binoculars and loads of patience. Knowing when your crow friends will be around for viewing will also help you time the observation just right. Do not just sit and stare at the crows in question. Remember, they are the smartest birds in the world and will notice a creepy human staring at them!

1. Behavior Differences

American crow eating

Without closely watching crows interact with each other, you might miss the subtle behavioral differences.

©iStock.com/DanielLacy

Male crows, like many male animals, are a bit more boisterous than females of their species. Male crows are the dominant sex and are braver, bossier, and more apt to bicker with other crows than are the females. The male crows will perch at the top of a tree, whereas the females are typically found on lower branches.

Male crows, when grown, will still live at home, helping their parents with younger siblings. The father and mother build the nest together, and sometimes the father will bring the mother food while she sits on eggs, occasionally, but that’s where the parenting responsibility ends for the father. The older children who are still living among their parents may still help with the younger chicks by guarding them or even bringing food home but the majority of the work is up to the female.

The females generally leave the nest once they are grown to start families of their own. Male crows of any age dominate all of the females, even if they are older. They may even dominate their mom! Even though the female offspring leave to have their own families, they remain very close to their entire family unit and will visit their parents frequently.

2. Male vs Female Crow Size

Juvenile blue-eyed American Crow perched

Even though these blue-eyed American crows are juveniles, you can tell which is male and which is female by their size.

©Elizabeth Caron/Shutterstock.com

There is a slight but definite size difference in male and female crows. The males are bigger, unlike many male animals. Many animals have larger, braver, more visible females. It seems like crows are sexist, but one could say the same thing for female spiders. They are bigger, more powerful, have dominance, live longer, are more decorative-looking, and sometimes eat the males! The animal kingdom is filled with bits of information humans may never fully understand.

Male crows are bulkier as a whole. They fluff their feathers up to look even bigger. Their beaks are generally thicker and look more powerful. The male crows have the look of a guy who works out a lot, whereas the females are sleek, more delicate-looking, and do not raise their hackles much. If you look at the head-to-neck-to-body ratio in the male crow, you will notice a thickness in the neck area with less defined neck and shoulder separation.

In female crows, the head, neck, and shoulders are slimmer, with a more defined, slender neck. They look more feminine and dainty. Male crows are said to be jet black and the females are a slightly softer black. Not everyone’s eyes will be able to pick up the slight difference in shade.

3. Voice Differences

A Murder of Crows

If you are lucky, you might hear the crows’ conversation. You may be able to further your study and discover which is male and which is female.

©Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock.com

Just like with humans, male crows are much louder and boisterous (typically) than females. If you listen to a group of crows chatting, you may notice some sound like the typical “caw,” though others sound a bit shriekier, and each “caw” is much longer than the males. The female crows are higher pitched, whereas the males sound much deeper toned. The males also tend to give three caws per sentence, and females will speak one higher-pitched caw.

It can be very confusing when the juvenile crow’s voices are added into the mix. They also have a higher-pitched, almost nasal-sounding caw for males and females.

The crow shown in this video is female. You can hear the difference in the calls.

4. Intelligence Differences

Nesting crow hatching, laying, sitting on the eggs

Only female crows look after eggs and chicks.

©KrisDurlen/Shutterstock.com

This may ruffle some feathers but the female crows have proven to have a higher intelligence and quickness to learn new things than the male crows. This is not to say male crows aren’t intelligent. Both sexes are more intelligent than any other flying friends. It’s simply that the female is a bit quicker to pick up on problem-solving techniques and tricks than the male.

Female crows adapt quicker than male crows to obstacles and techniques. They can bounce quickly from being a mother to a member of the crow society to a mate to a fierce defender. Sounds a bit like human moms. Females can catch on to new techniques much faster than male crows and are very clever when it comes to using the techniques in everyday life. If these mama crows need to step out and caw for a minute, they place guards to watch over her nest in case a predator chooses to make a wrong move!

As a Crow Flies

Crow perched on a branch

Crows remember the actions of humans even more than humans might.

©Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.com

Overall, crows are amazing creatures and we are lucky to share the earth alongside them. Sadly, many ill-informed people think they are nothing more than bad luck and an annoyance. These magnificent birds are so much more and even make wonderful friends.

They are smarter than cats, many dogs, and children up to a certain age. The most amazing part of the equation is how much they choose to learn on their own and the efforts they go to to protect their families. Give crows a chance.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tiffany Sims/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Katie Downey is a writer for A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, arachnids and insects. Katie has been writing and researching animals for more than a decade. Katie worked in animal rescue and rehabilitation with handicapped cats and farm animals for many years. As a resident of North Carolina, Katie enjoys exploring nature with her son, educating others on the positive role that insects and spiders play in the ecosystem and raising jumping spiders.

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