Crows are clever, resourceful birds that can adapt to a variety of environments. If you’ve ever wondered “how long do crows live?” you’re not alone. Many people are curious about the life expectancy of these common yet fascinating birds.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the average lifespan of a wild crow is 7 to 8 years. However, some crows in captivity have lived over 30 years.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you want to know about the lifespan of the American Crow and other crow species. You’ll learn about factors impacting longevity, differences between wild and captive lifespans, record ages, and comparisons to related corvids like ravens.

Typical Lifespan of Wild American Crows

Average lifespan in the wild

The average lifespan of wild American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is around 7-8 years. However, some crows have been known to live over 10 years in their natural habitat. The oldest known wild American crow was almost 30 years old.

Still, an American crow living past 15 years would be considered exceptionally ancient.

A variety of factors influence the typical lifespan of wild crows. Their highly omnivorous diet provides crows resilience against fluctuations in food sources. Crows are also intelligent and social birds that live in family groups, which helps protect them from predators.

However, hazards like predators, diseases, severe weather, electrocution from power lines, and being struck by vehicles take a toll on wild crow populations.

Lifespan differences between males and females

Research shows minor differences in lifespan between male and female American crows. On average, males live around 7 years in the wild, while females live slightly longer at 8 years. The increased lifespan in females may result from behavioral differences or physiological factors like hormones.

During breeding season, male crows devote significant energy to attracting mates and guarding their territory. The extra effort males expend establishing breeding sites may make them more vulnerable to predators and starvation.

Males also travel longer distances than females throughout the year, exposing them to more potential hazards.

Geographic differences in lifespan

Interestingly, the typical lifespan of wild American crows also varies by geographic location. Crows living in rural farmlands and wetlands generally live longer than their urban counterparts. Rural crows face lower risks from vehicles and fewer pollutants.

In cities, crows benefit from abundant food sources but must contend with more predators, vehicles, buildings, and power lines. Urban crows tend to live around 7 years, while rural crows may survive over 10 years. Some exceptionally long-lived crows of 20+ years have been found in rural settings.

Climate and severity of winters also influence crows’ lifespan. Crows living in mild coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest and Gulf Coast tend to live longer than those inhabiting harsh northern climates.

What Impacts How Long Crows Live

Food availability and quality

Crows are omnivorous birds that eat a wide variety of foods including insects, small animals, fruit, seeds, and human garbage. Access to abundant, nutritious sources of food allows crows to meet their high energy needs and supports their long lifespans of 10-15 years on average.

Urban and suburban crows often live longer due to easy access to calorie-rich human foods like french fries, pizza, and fast food scraps.

Habitat and range

Crows thrive in a variety of habitats including forests, grasslands, suburbs, cities, farms, and wetlands. Their ability to adapt to human activity has allowed them to expand their range dramatically. The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be found across North America from southern Canada down to Florida and the Mexican coast.

Stable, suitable habitat across this immense range supports healthy crow populations.

Predation and threats

Adult crows have few natural predators, mostly large hawks and owls. Their intelligence, social structures, and mobbing behaviors help them defend themselves and their nests. The bigger danger is to young crows just out of the nest.

During this vulnerable fledgling stage, many succumb to predation, disease, accidents, and starvation as they learn to fly and forage on their own. Those that make it to adulthood can expect to live to old age.

Weather and seasonal impacts

As hardy birds that stay put year-round, crows are well adapted to dealing with all kinds of weather. Their dense feathers and down keep them warm through cold northern winters while their tolerance for heat helps during southern summers.

During extreme cold snaps when food is harder to find, some mortality occurs, especially for weaker individuals. Long periods of excessive summer heat and drought can also impact crow survival. But overall, the crow’s resilience to diverse weather and climate underpins its long average lifespan.

Maximum Crow Lifespans and Record Ages

Oldest captive crows

The oldest known captive crow lived to the ripe old age of 59 years according to records. This specific hooded crow named Fred was owned by Cecilia Sandström of Sweden who took great care of her beloved pet.

However, most captive crows tend to live between 10-30 years depending on their care and conditions.

Longest-lived wild crows

Determining the longest-lived wild crow poses challenges since following a crow throughout its entire lifespan is difficult. However, based on bird banding recovery rate data, the average lifespan of American crows in the wild is around 7-8 years.

Though the maximum lifespan may reach over 10-15 years for the luckiest individuals. For example, one banded American crow in Massachusetts was recovered at over 16 years of age.

Notable long-living species

While American crows can live over a decade, some other crow species are even more long-lived by nature. For example, ravens which are a close cousin of crows have an average lifespan of 10-15 years in the wild, with the oldest wild common ravens reaching ages of 22-23 years old.

Ravens and crows belong to the larger corvid family known for their intelligence. The following table compares lifespans across some of the longest-living corvid species:

Species Average Lifespan Maximum Known Lifespan
Common Raven 10-15 years 22-23 years
American Crow 7-8 years 16+ years
New Caledonian Crow 10-15 years 19 years in captivity

As shown, the common raven can live the longest among wild corvids. New Caledonian crows also stand out for their remarkable tool-making abilities. Monitoring these iconic species can reveal the maximum bounds of corvid lifespans over time.

For more on crow behavior and conservation, check out sites like Audubon.

Crow Lifespans vs. Other Corvids


Ravens (Corvus corax) are one of the largest corvids and can live upwards of 30 years in captivity. Studies of wild raven populations show an average lifespan of 10-15 years (All About Birds). The variance in lifespan between wild and captive ravens illustrates the hazards posed by predators, disease, and scarcity of resources in nature.

Still, the impressive longevity of ravens in the wild points to their intelligence in utilizing tools and problem-solving to aid their survival.


The lifespan of rooks (Corvus frugilegus) in the wild is approximately 5 years on average. However, rooks raised in captivity under optimal conditions may survive up to 22 years. Their shorter lifespans in natural settings stem from the risks of their colonial nesting habits, which include aggression from other birds, parasites, harsh weather exposure, and predators.

However, rooks display high fidelity to their breeding sites across years.


Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) in the wild live around 5-7 years on average. Those kept in zoos and bird sanctuaries with steady access to food sources and medical care often exceed 20 years of age. A key factor impacting jackdaw survival rates in the wild is the security of their nesting cavities.

Jackdaws nest in holes and crevices in trees, cliffs, buildings and underground burrows. Unfortunately, harsh weather, egg predators, nest competitors and collisions take a toll.


In natural settings, most jay species like the Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) live around 5-7 years, while the Florida Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) reaches up to 15 years. When kept in captivity, with protection from severe weather, starvation risk and predators, jays more commonly survive into their late teens and may even reach 25 years old.

Their lifespan is a testament to the benefits of their ingenious food caching strategies in the wild.

Species Wild Lifespan Captive Lifespan
Ravens 10-15 years Up to 30 years
Rooks Around 5 years Up to 22 years
Jackdaws 5-7 years Over 20 years
Jays 5-15 years Up to 25 years

Why Crows Can Live So Long

Intelligence and adaptability

Crows are among the most intelligent of all birds, demonstrating advanced problem-solving skills, self-recognition, and impressive memory. Research shows that their brains are large for their body size, with more neurons packed into their forebrains than most mammals.

This gives crows a cognitive edge when dealing with challenging situations.

Thanks to their intelligence, crows exhibit remarkable adaptability. They thrive in a variety of habitats, from cities to forests to grasslands. Crows modify their behavior as needed to exploit new food sources, escape predators, and raise young.

Their behavioral plasticity enables adjustment to environmental changes that other species cannot always match.

Few natural predators

While crows do fall prey to the occasional owl, hawk, or coyote, they have relatively few natural predators compared to other birds. Lacking significant threats, their mortality rates from predation are lower.

Crows themselves can actually be quite aggressive, mobbing potential predators in order to drive them away. Their status in the middle of the food chain gives them an survival advantage.

Additionally, crows often nest high up in treetops, tucked away securely in forked branches. And they frequently nest in groups, posted near others of their kind for an extra element of protection. Their inaccessible nests offer shelter for eggs and hatchlings.

With attentive parenting, many young survive to adulthood and beyond.

Omnivorous and opportunistic eating

As omnivores open to varied diets, crows enjoy access to a wide range of food. They forage on everything from seeds and fruits to crustaceans and small vertebrates. If one food source disappears or becomes unavailable, crows can simply switch to another.

In particular, urban-dwelling crows thrive on human food waste and refuse. Our garbage and handouts provide them a veritable crow smorgasbord! Abundant year-round food keeps their bellies full and bodies nourished during all seasons.

Well-fed crows better endure regional winters, improving their chances for longevity.

American crows 10-15 years
Northwestern crows 10-19 years
Fish crows At least 16 years
Hooded crows 22 years

In the end, intelligence, security, and a flexible diet all help crows reach life spans exceeding that of many birds. Their ability to adapt and take advantage of resources makes crows a new kind of success story for the avian world.


Crows are known for their intelligence, problem-solving skills and adaptability, which allows them to thrive across diverse habitats. Their natural curiosity and cognitive abilities help them find food and evade threats.

While 7-8 years is the average lifespan in the wild, crows have the potential to live much longer when conditions are optimal. With abundant resources, few predators, and a bit of luck, crows have proven they can survive and thrive well into their 20s and 30s in both captive and wild settings.

The next time you see an American Crow skillfully gathering scraps or cracking nuts, remember that this clever bird may be older and wiser than you think. Their impressive longevity is a testament to the success of corvids as a family – some of the most intelligent and adaptable birds on the planet.

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