Do Crows Migrate – Why and Where Do They Migrate?

Migration is not a common phenomenon among crows. Some of them migrate, some migrate partially, and others do not at all. It depends on the nature and environment they live in. If it is suitable to live year-round, crows will not fly to migrate to other places. 

Crows migrate from one place to another when the weather is not suitable for them. Besides, scarcity of food is another reason that drives them to move to a new place for some time. 

Crows consider different factors like temperature, food availability, predator threat, living space, etc., when choosing a new area to stay in. They usually go back to their original place after the end of the rough season. 

Crow Migration from the US

You can divide American crows into five subspecies based on where they live. They are 

  • The eastern crow
  • The western crow
  • Southern crow
  • Northwest crow and
  • Florida crow

Among these subspecies, eastern, western, and northwestern crows are the ones that mostly migrate. Florida and northwest crows do not need to migrate as they find a good source of food in every season. However, they may have to look for food in different areas occasionally. 

Experts like to call their migration mostly partial as unlike other birds, crows do not cross a long distance. The longest recorded distance is about 1740 miles. But the average distance is much lower, between 300 and 500 miles. Crows can adapt to the changes of the environment unless there is a drastic change. 

When Do Crows Migrate?

Timing for migration can vary for these birds depending on where they live. Usually, they migrate in early January as the temperature falls drastically in some places during this time. Their food sources get covered by snow and ice. 

Crows do not only adjust their location during the winter. Their movement is mostly influenced by food availability. If the place they reside cannot produce enough food for them during the summer, they may move temporarily to a new place. But in most cases, they search for food at further distances but return to their colony at dusk. 

Crows do not migrate during the monsoon. They take shelter or roost in places where they can be saved from the rain. They do not change their residence, though. 

Why Do Crows Migrate?

The migration of crows is influenced by several factors. They do not migrate out of instinct. Here are the common reasons for their migration:

1. Cold Weather

The primary reason for crows to migrate is the winter. In some places, the temperature falls so drastically that it becomes challenging for these avians to survive. 

Therefore, they decide to move to a new place for the season only. Besides, when the temperature falls, they find it difficult to find food, which is another major reason for their migrating behavior. 

2. Mating Season

Many crows migrate during the mating season. Well, would you call it a migration? It is a debate. In simple terms, they move to newer places for mating. There, the birds build nests, mate, and breed offspring. 

The parent crows often leave the babies before the eggs are hatched. The baby pigeon leaves the nest before learning to fly and spends some time on the ground. Once it learns to fly, it joins the flock. During the time it leaves on the ground, it forages for food and survival. 

How Far Do Crows Migrate?

Unlike other birds, crows do not cross long distances for migration. The average distance for their migration is less than 300 miles. If they find places with suitable temperatures nearby, then crows do not opt to fly a long distance. 

Crows are not distant flyers. They cannot fly for days without taking breaks. Therefore, they choose not to go too far away from their original places. In the United States, most crows travel from one state to another to protect themselves from extreme cold. Sometimes, they may cross the border and move to neighboring countries. 

Where Do Crows Migrate to?

Migration is more common in North America for crows. The temperature changes during the winter, and birds look for suitable places. They migrate to the south of the country, like Arizona and Florida. 

Crows in Europe usually migrate to Central Europe during winter. Many Western folks head to the UK and Ireland. Crows in Africa and Asia usually do not migrate as the temperature does not fall too much to live for crows. Therefore, they do not need to migrate at all. 

How Long Does It Take for a Crow to Migrate?

It can take weeks for crows to migrate to a new place. As they are not strong flyers, they intend to choose a place that is nearby to their old colony. It still takes a few days, and sometimes weeks, for these birds. 

Crows can cross approximately 40 miles a day. Therefore, if they intend to go to a place that is within the 300-mile range, they will still need a week. Besides, crows have to take breaks between flies. Therefore, their migration time is lengthy even though crows do not cross a long distance. 

How Do Crows Choose the Migration Area?

You must have received the answer to your question, “Do crows migrate?” The next thing you may feel interested in is what the factors crows consider when choosing a new destination for migration. 

1. Minimum Temperature

The primary reason for crows to migrate is to find a place where the temperature remains suitable for them. In some places, the temperature falls less than 0 degrees Celsius. They look for places where they can reside safely without fearing predators, and the temperature is comforting. 

2. Food Source

Food availability is another major concern for these birds when they migrate. Crows live in colonies, and when they migrate, they do it together. They carefully observe the new location regarding the abundance of food. If it can provide enough food for the colony, then they choose to migrate there. 

3. Predators

The presence of predators is a concerning issue for crows when they choose a roosting site. The threat of predators influences them to roost in elevated but open areas at night so that they can escape easily. 

4. Human Influence

Crows are adaptable birds, and they often choose migration areas based on human-altered landscapes. Urban areas offer them abundant food sources, such as garbage and agricultural fields. For crows, the presence of humans confirms a good source of food for them. 

Do crows Come Back to the Same Place Every Year?

Yes, crows always come back to the same place every year after migration unless the place poses any threat. Crows are intelligent birds with a strong memory. Besides, they prefer to live in the same area for years. They make colonies and tend to live there as long as it can offer enough food and living space for them. 

Crows only migrate and look for a new place if the weather or ecosystem is not suitable. If they need to migrate for cold weather, they will return to their place as soon as the weather returns to normal. This is why you may sometimes notice the sudden absence of crows in winter and their reappearance after the end of the season.

Crows not only return to the same place, but they can also go to the same place during migration. If the place they migrated to previously offered enough food and comfort for them, they are most likely to visit the same place for migration. 

Are All Crows Migratory?

All crows are not migratory. Migrations are not in the instinct of crows. They only migrate when they are faced with urgency. If you can ensure proper food and environment for them throughout the year, they will not migrate. Therefore, crows that live in northern America are more commonly known as migratory birds. Whether crows migrate or not entirely depends on external factors. 

In the United States, the more you move to the south, the less likely the crows are to migrate. Crows in the south can manage food for them in all seasons. Winter is not as cold as in the north. Therefore, they do not need to migrate. 

Where Do Crows Sleep while Migrating?

Crows are social birds, and they sleep together in a flock or colony. They are not known for flying during the night either. They look for a nesting or roosting site when it is about dusk. During migration, they often follow local birds to find a proper roosting area. 

Crows prefer to sleep on elevated surfaces. It can be higher branches of trees, roads, or other elevated spaces. This is related to their safety. Additionally, there are sentry birds in their colony who are responsible for alerting the others about predators’ invasions. 

Crows are not long flyers, and they choose the route for migration, which allows roosting opportunities. They often even change their course to follow local birds for guidance in a roosting place. 


Can crows fly nonstop?

No, crows cannot fly nonstop. They take breaks during flies to rest and refuel. Their flights are usually shorter, with breaks for food roosting, which helps them avoid exhaustion. Because of this nature, they do not prefer to migrate to distant places. 

Do crows migrate in flocks?

Yes, crows mostly migrate in flocks. During migration, crows may form large groups, which can include hundreds and sometimes even thousands of birds. Flying together adds protection from predators, social interactions and enhances foraging efficiency. 

Where do crows go in winter?

Crows adapt to winter by migrating to warmer areas. Some crows migrate south to escape harsh winters. Some crows stay in their territory and cope with the food. They often roost in large groups in trees for added warmth and protection. 

Where do crows go in the summer?

Crows usually stay in their territory during the summer. However, some crows can mate during this time and migrate to nearby places. They remain busy building nests and raising chicks. 

Do crows remember faces?

Crows have sharp memories and can remember faces, including human faces. So, if you are nice to them, they will remember you for a long time. Research has established the fact that they can recognize and remember human faces if they have positive or negative interactions. 

Conclusion: Do Crows Migrate!

The migrating nature of crows is much different than most other birds. They tend to stay as close as possible to their territories. Migration is not instinctive to them. Instead, it is influenced by external sources like food and weather. Their unique behavior makes them an interesting prospect to research more about them.