Crows are clever and playful birds, but are crows good pets? For most people, the answer is no. Why? This is because the bird is bored living with humans. Crows need a lot of living space and mental stimulation. Without space to fly around and enjoy exciting activities, crows can become bored and destructive. This is why their high IQ is not suitable for life in captivity.
Let’s learn more about why crows don’t make good pets, how they differ from your typical pet bird, and how we know crows are so smart. We also recommend some other birds that make better pets.
Are crows good pets?
Crows are not good pets because they can get bored and unhappy when confined. Ravens love to explore, solve problems, and understand how things work. A crow trapped in a cage may find a way to escape.
Crows are not good pets because they are happier in the company of other birds. Crows practice communal sleeping in groups called roosts, where they typically mate for life.
Why is it illegal to keep crows as pet birds?
Keeping crows as pets is illegal in the United States under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the MBTA “prohibits the taking (including killing, capturing, selling, trading, and transporting) of protected migratory bird species without proper authorization from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.” .”
However, the MBTA permits the capture, transportation and temporary housing of orphaned, sick or injured crows. Only those over the age of 18 with at least 100 hours of crow rehabilitation experience are licensed. Crows must be released after 180 days in captivity, unless granted an extension of 30 days for further care.
Even though the MBTA does not protect crows in the United States, crows in captivity are a problem because of their need to migrate. For example, many western crows migrate to warmer climates to breed and enjoy more food sources during the winter.
According to Cornell University, migratory crows spend their winters in regions with average temperatures around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, crows from Canada and the northern states of the United States often migrate to the low plains of Nebraska and Kansas, or as far as Oklahoma.
How are crows different from pet birds?
Crows differ from common pet birds in at least three ways. First, many crows are migratory, and pet crows are uncommon, but common pet birds like parakeets are sedentary. Parakeets don’t need to fly thousands of miles to breed and escape cold weather. In this way, parakeets make better pet birds than crows.
Second, pet crows can make loud calls that are hard to ignore. Many common pet birds, such as cockatoos, have softer, melodious chirps, making these birds easier to keep as pets.
Finally, the crow is a large bird with a huge wingspan. American crows have an average wingspan of 2.8 to 3.3 feet, according to the Nature Mapping Foundation. In comparison, the canary—a popular pet bird—has an average wingspan of 8-9 inches. So, as you guessed it, it’s a lot easier to keep a pet canary than it is to make room for a pet crow.
Can you make friends with a crow?
One thing crows and suitable pet birds have in common is being “friends” with humans. You don’t need a pet crow to have the pleasure of being discreet and friendly with a crow in your neighborhood.
Two ways to befriend a pet crow include:
- Whenever a crow approaches, sit quietly so as not to scare it away.
- Offer it food and experiment to see which food it likes best.
Try to visit a pet crow in the same place at about the same time each day so it gets used to the routine. Don’t force friendship. Instead, give it time to trust that you’ll keep it at a safe distance and won’t do it harm.
Check with local laws and wildlife organizations for more information before feeding or approaching crows and other wild birds. In particular, it may be illegal to keep or own pet crows in some areas.
How do we know crows are smart?
For centuries, crows have been observed and admired for their intelligence. We know crows are creative because they demonstrate it with their problem-solving abilities. Crows, for example, will add pebbles to elongated water containers until the water level is high enough to drink.
Crows are intelligent because they use different sounds, or calls, to warn other crows of various dangers. Like, their warnings about sneaking cats are different than their warnings about humans approaching.
Experiments with crows have shown they can recognize faces, use tools, and even paint with a paintbrush. There’s no doubt that crows are smart, but they’re still better as wild birds than as pets.
So, if you can’t keep a crow, which birds make great pets? Read on to see our list of some of the best birds to bring home for housing.
Which birds make the best pets?
Crows are not great pets, and it’s important to only have one pet crow if you know exactly how to care for it and know the laws in your area. There are many other birds that really do make great pet birds. See below for a list of birds that are easier to care for and keep as companions.
Check with local pet stores and animal organizations to learn more about how you can help these pet birds live healthy and happy lives with you and your family.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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