The Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) is a Eurasian species in the genus of crows. It is so similar in structure and habits to the Carrion Crow that some authorities consider them to be merely geographical races of one species. It wasn’t until 2002 that the bird was elevated to full species status. It breeds in northern and eastern Europe, and closely allied specimens inhabit southern Europe and western Asia.
Where their ranges overlap (as in northern Britain, Germany and Siberia) their hybrids are fertile. Even so, the hybrids are less well-adapted than pure bred birds, and this is one of the reasons that this species was split from Carrion Crow. In the UK, the Hooded Crow breeds regularly in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and in the Scottish Islands. They also breed on a widespread basis in Ireland where they are locally known as “Grey Crows”.
In autumn some migratory birds arrive on the east coast of Britain.
The Hoodie as its called, with its contrasted greys and blacks, cannot be confused with either the Carrion Crow or Rook, but the call notes of the two are almost the same. The flight is slow, heavy and typically straight. The length varies from 48 to 52 cm.
The diet is similar to that of the Carrion, and it is an invariable scavenger. It drops mollusks and crabs to break them after the manner of the Carrion Crow. Additionally, on coastal cliffs, the eggs of gulls, cormorants and other birds are stolen when their owners are absent, and it will enter the burrow of the Puffin with a similar objective in mind.
Generally the nest is placed on or near the ground, on a cliff, in heather or a low bush, but occasionally trees are utilized. It resembles that of the Carrion, but on the coast seaweed is often interwoven in the structure. The four to six eggs are of the usual crow type, very similar to those of the Carrion. They are laid as a rule early in April.
Except for the head, throat, wings, tail and thigh feathers – which are black and glossy – the plumage is ash-grey, the dark shafts giving it a streaky appearance. The bill and legs are black. As with other crows, this species goes through a single moult in autumn. The male is the larger bird, otherwise the sexes are alike. When first hatched the young are much blacker than the parents.