Similar in appearance to the Northwestern Crow, this species is larger, has a higher-pitched voice, and is less social during the breeding season. Medium sized 43-53 cm, 316-575 g. All black. Adults (greater than 15 months) with feathers glossed violet; stout, glossy black bill; nares covered with stiff bristle-like feathers; and brown iris. Tips of folded wings do not reach tip of tail at rest. Tail slightly rounded. Sexes alike except male slightly larger than female. (Verbeek and Caffrey 2002).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Western Hemisphere Range
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are March 10 to April 5 and September 15 to October 15.
One of the most widespread of North American birds. Found in a wide variety of habitats, particularly in open landscapes, with scattered trees and small woodlots. Uses both natural habitats and those created by humans (logged, areas, agricultural fields, cities, and villages). Generally avoids large areas of forest (Verbeek and Caffrey 2002).
Omnivorous. Wide variety of invertebrates (terrestrial and intertidal marine): amphibians; reptiles; small birds and mammals; birds' eggs; nestlings and fledglings; grain crops; seeds and fruits; carrion; and discarded human food (Verbeek and Caffrey 2002).
Nests are usually well hidden in crotches and on horizontal limbs of trees and shrubs, usually near the trunk, and more likely in upper one-third to one-quarter than at lower levels. Eggs are subelliptical to oval, usually ground color - pale bluish green or olive green, marked with irregular shaped blotches. Clutch size ranges from 3 to 6 or 7 (Verbeek and Caffrey 2002). Near Fortine, the earliest eggs were on May 5, the earliest hatch on May 10, and the earliest young on the wing was June 5. Statewide, egg dates are from the last week in April to June 26.