Corvus cornix pallescens Madarász, 1904
Common names: Hooded crow, Hoodie [En], Corneille mantelée [Fr], Bonte kraai [Nl], Cornacchia grigia [It], Corneja gris, Corneja cenicienta [Es], Κουρούνα [Gr], Leş kargası [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Paphos (Πάφος, Baf) ● Cyprus
Taxonomy: It was considered a subspecies of the carrion crow (Corvus corone) for many years, hence known as Corvus corone cornix, due to similarities in structure and habits. However, since 2002, the hooded crow has been elevated to full species status after closer observation.
Description: Except for the head, throat, wings, tail, and thigh feathers, which are black and mostly glossy, the plumage is ash-grey, the dark shafts giving it a streaky appearance. The bill and legs are black; the iris dark brown.
Only one moult occurs, in autumn, as in other crow species. The male is the larger bird, otherwise the sexes are alike. Their flight is slow and heavy and usually straight. Their length varies from 48 to 52 cm.
When first hatched, the young are much blacker than the parents. Juveniles have duller plumage with bluish or greyish eyes and initially a red mouth.
Wingspan is 98 cm and weight is on average 510 g.
Four subspecies are now recognised (previously, all were considered subspecies of Corvus corone:
• C. c. cornix Linnaeus, 1758 – the nominate race, occurs in the British Isles (principally Scotland and Ireland) and Europe, south to Corsica.
• C. c. pallescens Madarász, 1904 – a paler form, Turkey and Egypt.
• C. c. sharpie Oates, 1889 – a paler grey form, from western Siberia through to the Caucasus region and Iran.
• C. c. capellanus P.L. Sclater, 1877 – the Mesopotamian crow or Iraqi pied crow, Iraq and southwestern Iran. It has very pale grey plumage which looks almost white from a distance. It is possibly distinct enough to be considered a separate species.
Biology: The hooded crow is omnivorous, with a diet similar to that of the carrion crow, and is a constant scavenger. It drops molluscs and crabs to break them after the manner of the carrion crow. On coastal cliffs, the eggs of gulls, cormorants, and other birds are stolen when their owners are absent, and this crow will enter the burrow of the puffin to steal eggs. It will also feed on small mammals, scraps, smaller birds, and carrion. The crow has the habit of hiding food, especially meat or nuts, in places such as rain gutters, flower pots, or in the earth under bushes, to feed on it later, sometimes on the insects that have meanwhile developed on it.
The bulky, stick nest is normally placed in a tall tree, but cliff ledges, old buildings, and pylons may be used. Nests are occasionally placed on or near the ground. The nest resembles that of the carrion crow, but on the coast, seaweed is often interwoven in the structure, and animal bones and wire are also frequently incorporated. The four to six brown-speckled blue eggs are 4.3 cm × 3.0 cm in size. The altricial young are incubated for 17–19 days by the female alone, that is fed by the male. They fledge after 32 to 36 days.
This species is a secondary host of the parasitic great spotted cuckoo, the European magpie being the preferred host. However, in areas where the latter species is absent, the hooded crow becomes the normal corvid host.
Distribution: Across Northern, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (not in Iberian peninsula), as well as parts of the Middle East up to Central Asia.
The subspecies C. cornix pallescens is known from coastal south Turkey to Levant, including Iraq and Egypt.
Wikipedia, Hooded crow