• crow;
  • maize;
  • North America;
  • synanthropy


The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) falls into a category of wild organisms, called “synanthropes,” that have developed an affinity for, or dependency on, human interventions in the landscape. The distribution and numbers of crows in North America east of the Mississippi River have been largely tied to the anthropogenic fragmentation of the forest. As ground feeders, crows need open space for foraging, but they also need trees for nesting and roosting. Conflicts between corvids and people centered on the former's damage to agriculture. Both Native American peoples and Euro-American settlers sought to thwart corvine preference for maize through a series of ingenious measures. After 1950 rural concern about corvine depredations greatly diminished. The appearance of large winter roosts in cities shifted the conflict with crows. Like humans, crows have undergone change, and their synanthropic character can be seen as fundamental to their biogeography.