Bird of the Week – Pied crow

The Zulu name is ugwabayi and Afrikaans die witborskraai.

THE Pied crow is a common to abundant resident throughout Southern Africa except for the central Kalahari basin and SE Namibia.

Usually found in pairs or small flocks, it sometimes occurs in highly gregarious flocks of up to 300 birds which usually roost in trees.

They forage mainly on the ground or in litter bins. Walking on the ground, they hop when moving fast. They may damage maize crops by perching on the stalks. Their flight is with deep and regular wingbeats. They gather in groups of up to 150 birds to perform aerial, spiraling flight as high as 100m.

These crows are wary but bold with a harsh, deep ‘kraak kraak’ call. They are largely scavengers and can catch small birds in flight. Food is mainly plant material such as seeds, fruit, roots, also arthropods, molluscs, frogs, reptiles, fish, small mammals and carrion from road kills.


The breeding season is from July to January. The nest is a large bowl of sticks, twigs and even wire and weighs up to 20kgs. They line it with fur, wool, rags and dry dung.

The height of nest is from three to 30 metres above ground in the stout fork of an isolated tree, telephone pole or windmill platform and it is built by both sexes. Four to five light green eggs speckled with brown or olive are laid. The incubation is 18 to 19 days and nestlings remain for 35 to 45 days.

The Zulu name is ugwabayi and Afrikaans die witborskraai.


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