House crow: animal pest alert

Page last updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2018 - 8:35am

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This animal pest alert provides information on the identification, biology, and pest potential of the house crow in Australia.

Introduction

The house crow (Corvus splendens) is also known as the Indian, grey-necked, Ceylon or Colombo crow. It is not native to Australia but has been transported here on numerous occasions on ships. The house crow has significant potential to establish populations in Australia and become a pest, so it is important to report any found in the wild.

Description

The house crow is 42-44cm in length (body and tail). It has black plumage that appears glossy with a metallic greenish blue-purple sheen on the forehead, crown, throat, back, wings and tail. In contrast, the nape, neck and lower breast are paler in colour (grey tones) and not glossed. The bill is black and the upper beak is strongly curved. The forehead is sloped and the eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are black.

Male and female birds look similar, although males are slightly larger. Immature birds have little or no sheen to their plumage.

Mistaken identity

Australian native crows and ravens (together called ‘corvids’) look similar in body shape to the house crow. However, these native corvids are different in that they have all-black plumage and white eyes when adult. Immature birds initially have dark eyes like the house crow, but they lighten to white as the birds mature. The native corvids include:

  • Australian raven (all states except Tasmania)
  • Little crow (occurs from inland eastern Australia to the west coast)
  • Forest raven (the only corvid in Tasmania plus small populations in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales)
  • Torresian crow (northern Australia).

The house crow is smaller and more slender than all native corvids (about 10cm smaller than the Australian raven). Its voice is a short, repeated caw-caw-caw which is very different from the drawn-out aah-aah-aah-aaaaahhhh of the Australian raven or the nark-nark-nark of the little crow and the calls of other native corvids. The house crow also lacks the long floppy throat feathers (called hackles) of the Australian raven.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080