Why Do Crows Attack Other Crows? Birds Advice
Imagine if you’re driving on highways. Suddenly, you notice a couple of crows falling out of the sky, tangling up around each other. One attacks the other and already pecks out one eye. Meanwhile, a murder of crows comes to attack the injured crow as well, diving in next to it, peck it, and then flying off.
This may lead you to wonder, why do crows attack other crows? Crows attack other crows to defend mates, compete with each other for food, and drive the outsiders away, who cross the territorial boundaries. However, playful fights and spats might often occur among themselves in the same family.
Apart from that, there might be some other reasons why crows attack each other. In this article, we’re going to talk about intraspecific aggression in crows and interspecific aggression between crows and ravens. Here is another article for you: Ravens vs. Crows.
Related Blog: What Are Predators Of Crows? [Details here]
Why Do Crows Attack Each Other?
Typically, crows fight with other crows both inside and outside of their family groups. They seem to be xenophobic, which means they don’t tolerate crows from other family groups. Here are some probable reasons why crows attack each other.
#1. Defending Mates
In most cases, crows attack other crows to defend their mates. If an outsider male crow threatens the mate or tries to mate with the female crow, the male crow in the pair attacks the outsider, diving on it and pecking it until it leaves the area.
#2. Preventing from the Territory
Crows are highly social and much territorial to other crows, always trying to protect their family from stranger crows. So, they hardly welcome strangers in their territorial boundaries. In fact, they recognize who the outsider is and who belongs to the family really well.
#3. Competing For Food
The territorial behavior of crows is not always about taking care of family members. A deadly fight might occur among crows when they discover a valuable food source. Once a crow tries to take the food, others chase the crow. Finally, the winner gets the food.
#4. Attacking Injured Crows
Crows tend to attack sick or injured crows. They believe sick or injured crows may attack predators, which is a threat to the whole flock. So, if crows notice an injured, ill, or such a crow that acts strangely, crows drive it off and peck it until it dies.
#5. Fighting Playfully within Family Groups
Despite being aggressive, crows can be playful and enthusiastic. Like humans, crows have families, including parents and offspring. Sometimes, they can playfully fight each other within their family. The fights are not usually serious and long-lasting.
How Do Crows Attack Other Crows?
Mobbing a single crow by a murder of crows is a mystery. If such an incident happens in front of you, it might seem to be a coupling with a flock of crows, diving one after another. The aerodynamics may include:
- Chasing at Top Speed
- Swooping up with Intense Speed
- Hurtling Down
- Amazingly Missing Each Other
- Stunning with Loops
- Pecking Closely Together
- Fighting without Being Injured for a While
Why Do Crows Attack Sick/ Injured Crows?
Sick or injured crows are subjected to mobbing because they might attract predators, eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, snakes, raccoons, large dogs, etc., to their territory. The predators might be a great threat to the whole flock.
Once a murder of crows knows that a crow is sick, injured, or acts strangely, they chase, attack, harass, and even kill the crow to prevent the arrival of the predators in their territory. The crows mob the injured one as long as it dies, pecking the eyes inhumanely.
Do Crows Kill Other Crows?
Yes, crows sometimes kill other crows. If a fight between a couple of crows ends up deadly, one of the crows might get killed. Maybe, the loser is much weaker than the winner or misjudged and accidentally killed.
Crows are complicated and competitive. In order to survive, they need to kill others. This may remind you of that famous phrase, ‘survival of the fittest’ first introduced in the Principles of Biology by Herbert Spencer.
Why Do Crows Kill Other Crows?
Basically, a couple of reasons are out there why crows kill other crows. The first one is territory transgressions, meaning if a crow crosses the territorial boundary during a mating or breeding season, it may get attacked by the pair.
The second one is killing injured, sick, or juvenile crows to reduce predation and competition. Although this looks so entirely unfair, crows need to do it in order to protect the other members of the family.
Why Do Crows Attack Ravens And Vice-Versa?
Crows are the main nest predators of ravens. They mainly attack ravens for food and territory even though they’re much smaller than ravens. Apparently, crows are much more aggressive towards ravens between March and May (crow’s nesting season).
However, they can also attack each other in other seasons, but the intensity of their fights decreases. The battles between crows and ravens are mostly one-on-one contests. Since crows live in flocks, they dominate ravens that usually live in pairs.
Not only crows but other animals and birds, such as squirrels, brown bears, lions, primates, dolphins, tree swallows, and cliff swallows, can attack each other. So, you shouldn’t blame crows for attacking and killing other crows in different cases.
However, we hope you have learned a lot about why crows attack other crows. If you have ever experienced a deadly battle among crows or between crows and ravens, let us know below in the comment section.
Because they get together and a murder always happens.
Crows don’t always attack the injured in their family group. I have a group of crows I have fed for years. One is visibly crippled, with a foot that is bent in half. It struggles to sit on the telephone wires and limps when on the ground. But it has been a member of this group for years. Another is missing a lower portion of it’s beak. It often struggles to grasp certain foods. Both afflictions are obvious and effect their movement and behavior. But they are an accepted part of the group and are not harassed or bullied in any way. My thinking is they may be founding member of the group, i.e., the parents, and therefore the offspring grew up accustomed to these deformities and don’t perceive it as a threat to the group.
Thanks for the information.
I agree that crow behavior is extraordinarily complex. I also noticed crows that are injured or disabled that are NOT attacked and are cared for. But I have seen crows attacked or mobbed also by other crows. But very interesting ideas and something to think about. I think family groups tend to chase away others from their territory. When I did crow rehab, we carefully returned crow to area it came from and the raucous welcome the bird received was amazing. When folks released crows to areas where they had no allies, they were mobbed.
They also make a lot of noise when they find a food source (like me feeding them half a croissant).
This seems counterintuitive given the noise attracts other competitors who will now also vie for the food. When more come then they have to fight over it.
Yes, You are right!
Awesome information. Even here in downtown San Francisco, I, especially in the hours right before dawn have witnessed interesting if not barbaric behaviors by murders of crows.
Sad to hear about the why’s of their attacking and killing the weak, but that’s kind of true about humans to some capacity.
There are particular and specific meeting places for distantly related and separate murders/flocks that could number in the thousands. UW Bothell has been studying one such group for over 15 years. Google UW Bothell crow study. Very interesting findings and theories.