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Corvus albus (Pied crow) 

Witborskraai [Afrikaans]; Igwangwa, Igwarhube [Xhosa]; iGwababa, uGwabayi [Zulu]; Ekorova (generic term for crows) [Kwangali]; Mohakajane [South Sotho]; Legokobu [North Sotho]; Gunguwo [Shona]; Lihubhulu [Swazi]; Qigwana [Tsonga]; LegakabÍ [Tswana]; Schildraaf [Dutch]; Corbeau pie [French]; Schildrabe [German]; Gralha-seminarista [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Corvidae

Corvus albus (Pied crow)  Corvus albus (Pied crow) 

Pied crow, Klipheuwel Farmlands, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Pied crow, South Africa. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from areas of Somalia and Ethiopia, as well as much of eastern Botswana, the Northern Cape and western Namibia. It has become prolific, as its numbers and range are expanding especially in the Karoo. It often occupies savanna woodland and bushy shrubland, but it is becoming more and more common in farmland, urban and suburban areas.

Distribution of Pied crow in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Great spotted cuckoo.


It is omnivorous, feeding mainly on plant material such as fruit and seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground. It also regularly eats animals, such as reptiles, fish, insects, small mammals and birds. In one observation, it caught and ripped apart a small bird in mid flight. It also takes eggs and even whole nests from breeding pairs of smaller birds. Reptiles are mainly taken from the ground (especially when crossing roads) and it may even attack fruit bats at their roosting site. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • fruit
      • Scaevola plumieri (Seoplakkie)
      • Opuntia ficus-indica (Prickly pear)
      • Atriplex semibaccata (Creeping saltbush)
    • seeds
      • cereal crops (e.g. maize)
      • Elaeis guineensis (Oil palm)
    • nectar
      • Aloe marlothi (Mountain aloe)
  • Animals


  • Both sexes construct the nest, which is a large bowl made of twigs, sometimes including bits of wire and lined with fur, dry dung, rags or sheep wool. It is usually placed in the vertical fork of a tall tree, such as a pine, Eucalyptus, cypress or palm. It also commonly places it on the top of a telegraph pole, especially in more open areas, such as the Karoo.
  • It lays 1-7, usually 4 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 18-19 days.
  • In one observation, the female solely foraged for the young, bringing them about 3 food items per hour. They eventually left the nest after 38 days.


Not threatened, in fact widespread and prolific.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.