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Corvus capensis (Cape crow, Black crow) 

Swartkraai [Afrikaans]; Unomyayi [Xhosa]; iNgwababane [Zulu]; Ekorova (generic term for crows) [Kwangali]; Lekhoaba, Mokhoabane [South Sotho]; Segogobane [North Sotho]; Chikungubaya [Shona]; Gunguva, Qugwana, Xikhunguba [Tsonga]; Lehukubu [Tswana]; Kaapse roek [Dutch]; Corneille du Cap [French]; Kapkrähe [German]; Gralha do Cabo [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 capensis (Cape crow, Black crow) Corvus capensis (Cape crow, Black crow) 

Cape crow. [photo Gerhard Theron ©]

Cape crow, Etosha National Park, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It has two separate populations - one in East Africa and the other from Angola to southern Africa. Here it is common in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, largely absent from the Kalahari and Mozambique. It generally favours open habitats with scattered trees, such as open savanna woodland and grassland, but it is also common in semi arid shrubland, alien plantations and farmlands.

Distribution of Cape 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.


Omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of animals and plants. It mainly forages on the ground, searching the bases of plants and responding to any temporary abundance of food, such as termite alate emergences. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Animals
  • Plants
    • fruit and seeds
      • Atriplex semibaccata (Creeping saltbush)
      • Diospyros (jackal-berries)
      • Scutia myrtina (Cat-thorn)
      • Euclea undulata (Small-leaved guarri)
      • Lycium (Honey-thorn)
      • Thesium lineatum (Witstorm)
    • maize


  • The female does most of the nest construction, while the male collect the materials. It consists of a large cup of sticks and twigs, thickly lined with soft material such as feathers, fur, sheep's wool, dry dung, string and cloth. It is usually placed in the sleder branches of a tall shrub ,especially Rhigozum obovatum (Granaatbos) in the Karoo, but also in Acacia and Eucalyptus trees, utility poles and rarely cliff edges.
Corvus capensis (Cape crow, Black crow)  

Cape crow in its nest, Colesburg, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • It lays 1-6, usually 3 eggs, which are incubate by both sexes for about 18-19 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest at about 26-39 days old and becoming independent roughly 6 months later.


Not threatened, in fact quite common in protected areas.


  • 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.