Are crows loyal to their partners?
Yes, they are true to their partners. Unlike humans, there are no particular rules in the crow community, but crows are socially monogamous.
But this isn’t all. Crows have complex relations with their mates and families and it is quite interesting to learn about them!
Crows Are Generally Monogamous
Research shows that crows are generally monogamous birds, i.e, they mate with a single partner and stay with them throughout their lives. However, it has been seen that they still do sometimes copulate with other birds.
On average, 18% of baby crows are a result of external copulation while the rest are from the mated couple.
If in case the partner is non-fatally injured or the male has a lower sperm count, the female will not leave the male but will mate with other males to produce offspring. This means that they are monogamous but promiscuous.
Do Crows Only Have One Mate For a Lifetime?
No, if their partner dies, they can mate with others. Crows live a double life sometimes, i.e., they spend half of the day with their family and spend half with the roost community or other crows pecking at the field.
As it is said that 20% of the family offspring are the result of extra-pair matings, it is not clear if the females have control over that.
They can mate without their permanent partner even while living in the same nest, but the situation arises not so often. If the male crow is injured, extra-pair mating becomes essential.
Does It Mean That Crows Are Not Loyal?
No, it does not mean that. They live with their partners for life unless they are murdered or severely injured.
Loyalty is a human concept and does not apply to animals and birds in the wild. There are no rules as such in the bird community. If a partner dies, the crow is free to move on. Even when the family is happily living together, extra-pair matings are not prohibited.
How do crows nest?
Crows usually start building nests in the spring, usually in March.
Both the male and female crows in the pair participate in the nest-building process. They make their nests from twigs, grass, mud, fur, feathers, and any other easily available soft material to line their nests with.
The female then lays a clutch of eggs consisting of 3-4 eggs. These eggs are incubated mostly by the mother but the father will incubate these eggs whenever his mate is away from the nest.
As they take two to three years to mature, they live with their parents, and their parents protect them very fiercely. Crows even make decoy nests if they are suspicious that their kids are in danger.
What are helper crows?
Like kingfishers and nuthatches, crows too engage in ‘cooperative breeding’. In the community of crows, this means that there can be as many as 10 crows in addition to the parents who help raise the brood. These additional crows are called helper crows.
Crows are loyal to their families even when they grow up; they live with their families and help them in taking care of the little ones. These helper crows are generally young male crows who help raise the young.
How Do These Helpers Help?
Not only do they help raise the young, if a male or a female gets injured or dies, the family still has to move forward.
Especially in the case of injured members, helpers come handy as they help in raising the little ones. As they start fulfilling the responsibilities of a parent, it happens very often that they breed with the female to produce more offspring.
It is said that 7% of the family offspring come from these helpers. They not only raise the kids but in the long run, they also inherit the territory. Not every crow community allows incest, and some of them are quite conscious about their relations.
Related Read: Do Crows Talk like Parrots? | How do they Communicate?
Despite often being connected to dark and haunted topics, crows are actually social birds and very close to their families. Crows are generally monogamous and mate for life!
However, in the case of an injured or perished mate, crows do copulate with other members of the species to ensure that they produce offspring. This protects the community numbers and ensures the species isn’t wiped out.