This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) is very similar to the raven (Corvus corax) - which is practically extinct in Britain- in appearance and habits, though it is much smaller, its length being about 18 in. The plumage is glossy blue-black, with some greenish reflections; the female is similar to the male, but rather smaller.
The carrion crow is generally seen solitary or in pairs, though the whole family remain together for some time after the young brood are able to fly. At night a company of ten or twelve often roost together, and bands of a like number are frequently seen in the winter time. The nest is placed on the summit of a tall tree, and solitary or remote from other birds, the foundation consisting of sticks and made of considerable size, the inside lined with withered grass, hair of cows and horses, and wool. The eggs, four to six in number, are bluish-green with blotches of brown. The food comprises carrion of all kinds, young hares and rabbits, eggs and young of game and poultry. It thrusts its bill through eggs and carries them off, and attacks young lambs and sickly sheep on moorlands, punching out the eyes of its victims. It does not disdain frogs, lizards, and insects, and goes to the sea shore betimes in order to feed on mollusca, crabs, shrimps and fish.
The Hooded, Grey-backed or Royston Crow (Corvus cornix), Fig. 39, is common in Scotland and Ireland, but less so in England, though sometimes common in the northern counties during the winter.
It leaves this country about April, yet some remain during the summer and bring up a brood of young.
Fig. 39. - The Hooded Crow.
The hooded crow is about 20 in. long. Its head, wings, and tail are black, the rest of the body is a dull smoke-grey. Its nest is similar to that of the carrion crow, and is built on the tops of very high trees, such as the pine, but it is also known to build on precipitous rocks. Its food consists principally of carrion and garbage of all kinds, eggs, young birds - those of grouse and other species which it destroys in the north being very great - while in some parts of the Highlands ground is robbed of seed-corn and seed potatoes by the hooded crow. It also prowls about the preserves, warrens and pastures, where any weakly or disabled animal is either pecked to death or its eyes punched out, left to die, the crows ultimately feasting on the carrion.