The Torresian Crow, Corvus orru, is a native bird to Australia and is found in the northern and western parts of the country. Interestingly, it can also be found in Papua New Guinea and the bird is named after the Torres Strait which separates Australia and PNG.
The Torresian Crow has a life span of 30 years and is about 50cm in length. It has all black plumage, which is glossy on the back and dull on the front, with the base of the feathers being white. The feathers on the throat are shorter and are referred to as hackles. In the right lighting, you may even see the lovely metallic blues and greens, and sometimes purple, shining from their feathers.
The chicks hatch with blue eyes, while the juveniles have brown eyes until they are about a year or so old and the adults have striking white eyes. The video below is of a juvenile and adult Torresian crow and as well as seeing the different eye colours, you can hear the different sounds between an adult and juvenile and also glimpse some of the white downy feathers.
The diet of the Torresian crow consists of mice, grubs, insects, berries and fruit. They also eat carrion (roadkill) and can even be seen amongst rubbish, such as at the local tip or hanging around garbage bins in the street or parks. It has also been observed that Torresian crows are able to successfully eat the introduced and invasive cane toad without ingesting the toxins by flipping them over and eating their belly.
Torresian crows are often mistaken for other crows and ravens in Australia as they all look very similar. One way to tell if a bird is a Torresian crow is if it shuffles its wings when landing on a perch. Aside from that, you can tell a Torresian crow by its unique calls. Here are a few that I have managed to record.
This one is a classic call of the crow (you may need to turn up the volume for this recording – don’t forget to turn it down again!).
This recording has two crows who seem to be talking to each other.
This recording has that funny weird snoring sound they do (you may need to turn this one up a bit too!).
These birds are highly adaptable to many habitats and indications from reading material on the internet are that the population of these birds is on the increase, possibly by as much as 40% in South East Queensland alone. The Torresian crow was also the 5th most sighted bird in the Gold Coast area in the 2016 Backyard Bird Count conducted by Birdlife Australia.
As an example of how these crows are intelligent and flexible in their ever changing suburban environment, it was reported in January 2017 that in the Brisbane region, the birds had begun nesting in manmade structures instead of trees. As a result, the chicks hatched in such a nest will then also nest in similar manmade structures when it’s their turn to breed. You can read the interesting and short article with photos on the ABC website here.
Although many people may find Torresian crows noisy and a nuisance, they are a native bird and are protected under legislation. The birds also play an important part in biodiversity so we need to be tolerant of these large and loud birds, after all, it’s their world too.
The photos in this post are of the Torresian crows that live around my house. You can read more about the crow family here. You can also read about an experience I had with a crow who kept attacking a glass door in my house here.
If you have crows hanging around your place bothering you, check out the Living With Crows page by the Queensland Government for some tips on how to manage the situation.