Cover image by Trevor Hardaker – BirdPix 16860
The Pied Crow is an unmistakable, vocal and conspicuous species, unlikely to be overlooked or misidentified. Pied Crows get their name due to their pied plumage. Pied means having two or more colours, and in this case, it is black and white.
As its name suggests, its glossy black head and neck are interrupted by a large area of white feathering from the shoulders down to the lower breast. Their eyes are dark brown and their legs, feet and bill are black. The bill is long and slightly hooked. Both sexes are similar and have no differences in their plumage.
It occurs across most of sub-Saharan Africa, but is absent from, or rare, in the central and western forests. It has become prolific, its numbers and range are expanding especially in the Karoo region of South Africa as can be seen in the SABAP2 distribution map below.
Pied Crows prefer open savanna woodland, bushy shrubland, and grassland with scattered trees. It is becoming more and more common in farmland, urban, and suburban areas. They are highly adaptive and don’t mind foraging in villages, towns, and cities and will often visit rubbish dumps and bins.
The Pied Crow is an omnivorous bird. It mainly feeds on plant material such as fruit and seeds, but also readily eats reptiles (such as tortoises), small mammals, fish, insects and other birds.
Pied Crows are usually seen in pairs or small groups, but they can congregate in large numbers at communal roosts or at good food sources, e.g. refuse dumps and large mammal carcasses.
During breeding, both the female and the male construct the nest, which is a large bowl made of twigs, sometimes including bits of wire. The nest is then lined with fur, dry dung, rags or sheep wool. It is usually placed in the vertical fork of a tall tree, such as a pine, Eucalyptus, cypress or palm. It also commonly places it on the top of a telephone pole, especially in more open areas, such as the Karoo.
Species text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997.
Virtual Museum (BirdPix > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name).
More common names: Witborskraai (Afrikaans); Igwangwa (Xhosa); iGwababa (Zulu); Corbeau Pie (French); Schildrabe (German); Schildraaf (Dutch).
Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M and Daniel KA 2022. Pied Crow Corvus albus. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available Online at http://thebdi.org/2022/11/08/pied-crow-corvus-albus/