Baby Crows: Do They Actually Need Your Help?
Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN) cares for hundreds of American crows every year, making them one of the most common avian patients that the Center receives. A majority of these crows arrive as nestlings and fledglings during the months of May and June, and SBWCN has been experiencing a large influx of these crow patients in recent weeks. Unfortunately, many of these crows are mistakenly brought to SBWCN by well-meaning citizens when they’re not actually in need of care.
Crow fledglings spend a lot of time on the ground before they’re ready to fully fly, which, to the unknowing person, can appear concerning. However, while these young crows are building up their strength to fly, they will leave the nest and hop around on the ground for about one to two weeks. During this period, the crow’s family will still monitor the fledgling, bringing it food and protecting it from potential predators. While it may appear this crow is helpless because it cannot fly, this stage is perfectly normal and necessary for its development.
Young crows can be distinguished by their bright blue eyes and pink mouths. Crows live in family groups, with multiple birds assisting in raising the young. The adult crows are fiercely protective and are capable of fending off a number of predators to keep their young safe. If citizens encounter a young crow on the ground, SBWCN encourages them to observe the bird from a distance before making any efforts to capture it.
How can you determine if a young crow is in need of care? Here are some obvious signs:
You witnessed the bird get injured (i.e. it was attacked by a predator, fell from a high nest, etc.)
The bird has visible injuries (i.e. blood, asymmetrical wings, etc.)
The bird has no feathers or its eyes are closed (it is too young to be out of the nest).
Like every animal, the best case scenario for a young crow is to stay in the care of its parents. Due to crows’ unique social structure, they have a much higher chance of survival when they can stay under the protection of their original family group in the wild. SBWCN only wants to intervene if a bird is injured or truly orphaned. When in doubt, citizens should always call the Wildlife Care Network Helpline for advice and instruction: (805) 681-1080.