Crows like humans tend to stay married to the same spouse. Right in my backyard the same pairs frequent our feeders and the hand outs we throw for them. From my office window in Renton I can watch each spring our resident pair build a new nest in the trees. Down by my beach on Puget Sound the huge mob/murder will divide up into pairs. Most notably the pair in the madrona forest.
Kevin J. McGowan of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has a FAQ on Crows that you can find at this link – Crow FAQs. Here is a clip from this article around crows and mating for life:
Do the male and female crow mate for life?
More or less. In general, it appears that they do. Unless a mate is killed or severely incapacitated, crows appear to stay with the same mate year after year. It is possible, however, for exceptions to occur. Generally this would happen in the case of a young pair of birds that mated but bred unsuccessfully. They might break the pair bond and try again with someone else. I had one young male return home after an unsuccessful first nesting attempt. Because the female was unmarked I do not know if she died or also went home to her folks.
#4 fact – Female Crows mate for life, but males will cheat, which explains the next one:
#5 fact – Male crows have no penis. Their sperm is transferred from their cloaca to the female cloaca and copulation only lasts 15 seconds. It is a wonder the females are so loyal!
I have a story that comes from when we raised our baby crow in 2006.
I must remind everyone that raising a baby bird is not the right thing to do unless there is no other option. It is technically illegal as well. We didn’t know that at the time but now that I have researched and lived the crow dream for 10 years I do know. That is why when Running Crow was hurt in our back yard I heeded my instinct to let her go free instead of sheltering her myself. Crow Running
Unless the baby crow is in immediate danger from a cat or dog or other deadly things please do not pick them up. Baby crows often are not able to fly upon first fledging from the nest. Their parents are close and know how to protect and finish raising them to adulthood. In the case of our baby the cat was inches away when I swept her up. I have to say her parents never left either. They were present every day in the trees around us.
Back to my story on relationships around mates and love. Months had flown by and our baby was my husband’s buddy following him around every day in the yard. One day another crow came to visit her(him). They seemed to hit it off and the visitor came back several times. Then one day they flew away together. That was the lovely end to our adventure saving and raising a crow.
Was that one of her family? Or was it another young crow looking for a mate? We humans want to put our feelings on the avian world and I am voting for crow love.
If you want more info on spring breeding here are two of my prior posts on this subject.
It is a tough time this not quite spring time. Food is still scarce and the trees are bare. The mass murder in Renton outside my office window seems to be dissipating and the families are spending more time in their home territories.
In the courtship period I particularly enjoy their flights of fancy swooping and performing acrobatics with each other or in larger flocks. I have a few pictures of this behavior.
In the weeks to come watch closely and you might be treated by a pair of crows sitting close, preening and reconnecting. Like humans they have a courtship time before they do the deed.
Before we know it we will see this cuddling turn to nest-building. Tall evergreen trees will become nurseries and the mama sound of a baby crow cry will ring through out the woods. The crow family will grow with more siblings to help the following year.
May you find crow love in your life. Doesn’t the world need a little more love?