Baby Crows: Do They Really Need Your Help?
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN) cares for hundreds of American crows each year, making it one of the most common avian patients the center receives. A majority of these crows arrive as chicks and chicks during the months of May and June, and the SBWCN has seen a large influx of these patient crows in recent weeks. Sadly, many of these crows are mistakenly brought to SBWCN by well-meaning citizens when they don’t actually need care.
Crow fledglings spend a lot of time on the ground before they are ready to fully fly, which to the uninformed person can be worrisome. However, as these young crows develop their strength to fly, they will leave the nest and jump on the ground for about one to two weeks. During this period, the raven’s family will always keep an eye on the young, bringing it food and protecting it from potential predators. While it may seem that this crow is helpless because it cannot fly, this stage is perfectly normal and necessary for its development.
Young crows are distinguished by their bright blue eyes and pink mouths. Crows live in family groups, with several birds helping to raise the young. Adult crows are fiercely protective and are able to repel a number of predators to protect their young. If citizens encounter a young raven on the ground, the SBWCN encourages them to observe the bird from a distance before making efforts to capture it.
How can you tell if a young crow is in need of care? Here are some obvious signs:
You saw the bird hurt itself (i.e. it was attacked by a predator, fell from a high nest, etc.)
The bird has visible injuries (e.g. blood, asymmetrical wings, etc.)
The bird has no feathers or its eyes are closed (it is too young to leave the nest).
Like any animal, the best scenario for a young crow is to remain in the care of its parents. Due to the unique social structure of crows, they have a much higher chance of survival when they can remain 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 hotline for advice and instructions: (805) 681-1080.