The head, throat, wings, tail and thigh feathers, are black and glossy. The plumage is ash-grey, the dark shafts giving it a streaky appearance. The bill and legs are black. The iris is dark brown. There is only one moult, in autumn, as in other crow species. The male is the larger bird, otherwise the sexes are alike. The flight is slow and heavy and usually straight. The length varies from 48 to 52 cm (19 to 20 in). When first hatched the young are much blacker than the parents. Juveniles have duller plumage with bluish or greyish eyes and initially a red mouth. Wingspan is 98 cm (39 in) and weight is on average 510 g.
Habitat and Distribution
The Hooded Crow breeds in northern and eastern Europe. Where its range overlaps with Carrion Crow, as in northern Britain, Germany, Denmark, northern Italy and Siberia, their hybrids are fertile. In the British Isles, the Hooded Crow breeds regularly in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and in the Scottish Islands. It also breeds widely in Ireland. In autumn some migratory birds arrive on the east coast of Britain.
The Hooded Crow is omnivorous, with a diet similar to that of the Carrion Crow, and is a constant scavenger. It drops molluscs and crabs to break them after the manner of the Carrion Crow. It will also steal eggs of gulls, cormonants on coastal cliffs.
Nesting occurs later in colder regions: mid-May to mid-June in northwest Russia, Shetland and the Faroe Islands, and late February in the Persian Gulf region. In warmer parts of the British Isles, the clutch is laid in April. The bulky stick nest is normally placed in a tall tree, but cliff ledges, old buildings and pylons may be used. Nests are occasionally placed on or near the ground. Four to six brown-speckled blue eggs are laid and incubated for 17-19 days by the female alone.