Morphology of the Hooded crow Corvus corone cornix in relation to age, sex and latitude



The morphological variation of the Hooded crow at Trondheim, Norway, was studied, based on a sample of 734 birds collected during a six year period. Mouth colour, plumage colour, skull thickness and feather length were found to be characters which could readily be used to separate juveniles from adults. Females aged 15–19 months had a thinner skull roof than older female birds. Low coefficients of variation were found for the lengths of the third primary and of the tail feathers. A discriminant analysis showed that of the various body dimensions studied bill height and bill length distinguished the sexes most precisely. A high degree of sexual dimorphism was also found to exist in body weight and in the thickness of the skull roof.

Those body structures which develop at about the same stage during the juvenile growth period were associated with the same principal component, viz. the lengths of bony structures, parts that develop early on in life, were intercorrelated (wing bones, tarsus, bill basis and the width of foramen magnum). The lengths of the primaries and of tail feathers were also intercorrelated, structures which develop late.

The mean body weight of the Hooded crow population studied in Norway was intermediate between that of the Hooded crow in Germany and of the Carrion and Hooded crows in England and Scotland. No such differences were found in wing length. Norwegian Hooded crows have shorter tails than German ones, but their bills are much larger, in particular for the females. Therefore, the degree of sexual dimorphism in bill size seems to be reduced at high latitudes.