Wintering in a large flock makes it possible for crows to follow each other to new sources of food, Hartman said.
Crows aren't picky when it comes to dining.
"They're opportunistic feeders," Miller said, with a diet that ranges from grains, nuts, berries and fruit to roadkill, garbage, mice, fish and smaller birds. "They're also nest predators," she said, who eat the eggs and young of other birds.
"I've had a group of them follow me when I was squirrel hunting," said Kanawha State Forest Assistant Superintendent Kevin Dials, who assumed the birds were hoping he would share some of the squirrels he had bagged.
A number of clues can be used to differentiate crows from their raven cousins.
Crows have fan-shaped tails, as opposed to the ravens' wedge-shaped tails. Ravens, which are nearly twice as large as crows, and make a croaking, "gronk-gronk" vocalization, compared to the crows' higher-pitched "caw-caw." Crows are more social than ravens, often traveling alone or in very small groups. In West Virginia, ravens generally favor feeding and nesting at elevations higher than those where crows tend to live.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the oldest known wild crow was 16 years old, while a crow kept in captivity in New York died at the age of 59.
In November, Miller and Hartman plan to present a "Bird of the Month" program at Kanawha State Forest featuring the wild turkey.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.