Why Is It Illegal To Own A Crow?


Crows are among the most intelligent of birds, and their presence can enrich any landscape. But did you know that in some areas, it’s illegal to keep these fascinating creatures as pets? As an ornithologist, I’m here to explain the reasons why owning a crow is prohibited—and how we can still appreciate them from afar.

We all recognize crows for their distinctive black feathers and loud calls. Yet they’re so much more than meets the eye: Crows have been known to problem-solve using tools, remember human faces, and craftily adapt to urban environments. Unfortunately, despite their intelligence, depending on where you live it could be against the law to own one.

The laws vary by region or municipality; however there are many common factors which make keeping a crow as a pet unlawful. So why exactly is this bird off-limits? To answer this question and more about our feathered friends, come along with me as I explore what makes crows such unique animals—and why it’s important that we admire them only from a distance.

Fish Crow
Fish Crow

Definition Of A Crow

Crows are members of the corvid family, a group that includes ravens, jays and magpies. They have strong legs, long wings and thick bills with bristles at the base which help them to feed on hard-shelled foods like nuts or crabs. Crows are also known for their intelligence; they can recognize human faces and use tools such as sticks to obtain food. Some crows even build complex nests with multiple chambers. In general, these birds are highly adaptable animals who live in many habitats across the world including urban areas. Their vocalizations vary regionally but generally feature harsh croaking sounds during courtship displays and alarm calls when threatened.

Conservation Status

Despite the fact that crows are intelligent and have been observed to be quite sociable, it is illegal to own a crow as a pet. This may come as a surprise since many other animals can legally be kept in captivity; however, there are conservation reasons for not allowing individual ownership of this species.

The American crow is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as being of least concern. This means that they currently do not face any risk of extinction or widespread decline in their population. However, due to human activities such as habitat destruction and pollution, populations could become threatened if appropriate measures aren’t taken soon. Therefore, special protection laws exist to ensure that crows remain abundant and safe from harm.

In order to protect them adequately, some countries have implemented regulations on owning crows domestically. For example, in the United States, crows cannot be held without an official permit from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service—which indicates that caring for one should only be done under specific circumstances with proper authorization. Thus far these restrictions appear to have been effective at preserving existing wild populations while also preventing people from keeping them illegally. With such protective measures already in place, understanding the history of protection laws related to owning crows will help provide further insight into why keeping them is restricted today.

History Of Protection Laws

Historically, crows have been viewed as symbolic of death and destruction. This has led to laws prohibiting the ownership of them in many countries around the world. In the United States, it is illegal to own or possess a crow without state-issued permits. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was established primarily for species such as warblers, swallows, and other small birds that migrate seasonally between North America and Mexico. However, this law also covers all native bird species found within US borders; thus making it illegal to own a crow without special authorization from federal wildlife officials. Additionally, some states may have additional regulations beyond what is provided by federal law. For example, California requires anyone who wishes to keep a crow must obtain an “open permit” from their Fish & Wildlife Department prior to possessing one.

The protection afforded these birds serves two purposes: firstly, it ensures the continued existence of wild populations throughout much of their range; secondly, it reduces human contact with these intelligent creatures which can be beneficial for both parties involved. As such, any attempt at owning or capturing a crow should be avoided unless authorized under existing legislation. Moving forward we will look at how this legislation has impacted human communities in regards to crows.

Impact On Human Communities

The protection of crows has had far-reaching effects on human communities. For centuries, crows have been seen as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom in many cultures; however, their ownership has become illegal due to the threat they pose to public health and safety. As such, it is now against the law for any person or organization to possess a crow for any purpose whatsoever.

This prohibition affects both rural and urban environments, with individuals being unable to keep these birds as pets or use them for falconry. This can be particularly difficult for people who are used to having crows around their home and familiarizing themselves with them over time. The sudden absence of these birds can lead to feelings of loss and separation from nature that some may find hard to cope with. Furthermore, farmers living near large populations of crows may suffer economic losses when their crops are damaged by huge flocks gathering in fields at night.

Crow’s presence within our society presents an interesting dilemma between respecting nature while also ensuring public safety; hence why understanding alternatives to owning these birds becomes essential.

Alternatives To Owning A Crow

Native to the United States, crows are protected by federal law, making it illegal for individuals to own them as pets. As a result of this protection, there are some creative alternatives available if one wishes to observe and interact with wild birds without actually owning any.

First, birdwatching is an increasingly popular hobby that can be done from almost anywhere. All that’s required is access to binoculars or a telescope and basic knowledge about common species in the area. Additionally, many areas have outdoor aviaries where visitors can view different kinds of birds up close in their natural environment. Bird feeders placed outside homes also attract a variety of feathered friends who may come visit throughout the day; providing hours of entertainment for those keen on watching wildlife. Finally, joining local bird clubs provides opportunities for more serious enthusiasts to talk with experts and learn more about these impressive creatures.

Crow ownership remains prohibited due to their legal status as wild animals but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy their presence while respecting nature’s laws at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Types Of Crows Are Illegal To Own?

Generally speaking, it is illegal to own a crow in the United States. But what types of crows are specifically prohibited? To answer this question we must look at the species that fall under legal jurisdiction.

Crows occupy an interesting space between wild and domesticated animals, which makes them difficult to classify as either one or the other. As an ornithologist, I have observed several species within the Corvidae family, including American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus) and Common Ravens (Corvus corax). These birds are usually protected by both federal and state laws, making it illegal for anyone to keep them captive without proper permits.

Aside from these general regulations, each type of bird has its own unique restrictions on ownership. For example:

  1. American Crows cannot be kept as pets unless they are bred domestically with special authorization from wildlife officials;
  2. Fish Crows may not be taken into human care as they remain classified as migratory birds;
  3. Common Ravens require special consideration due to their size and potential aggressiveness;
  4. All three species can only be possessed if certain conditions are met such as providing suitable living quarters, enough food and water, etc., as mandated by local agencies.

It’s important for people considering owning a crow—or any kind of pet—to understand their responsibilities towards animal welfare prior to doing so. In most cases, taking in a wild animal should not even be considered unless there is a clear plan of action regarding its well-being throughout its lifetime with you or your family. Despite how fascinating these creatures may seem when observed in nature, keeping them confined to small enclosures can cause severe mental distress along with physical health problems over time—and this practice should always be avoided whenever possible!

What Are The Consequences Of Owning A Crow?

Owning a crow is an illegal act in many countries. To better understand this, it’s important to consider the implications of owning one of these birds. As an ornithologist, I can provide insight into what consequences may arise from such action.

Firstly, crows are protected by federal and/or state laws prohibiting their possession without proper permits or licenses. This means that any attempt to own a crow can be met with significant fines and even jail time if violated. Furthermore, since crows are wild animals, they will likely require specialized care beyond what most pet owners can offer – which could lead to further legal trouble for those attempting to keep them as pets.

Secondly, there is also the issue of public safety due to the potential danger posed by a wild animal living in close proximity to humans. Crows have sharp claws and beaks which can cause injury when handled improperly or aggressively; additionally, they may carry diseases which could potentially spread among people who come into contact with them. Finally, crows often form strong bonds with other members of their species and separating them from their flock could lead to psychological harm or even death in some cases.

In light of these issues:
1) Ownership of crows is strictly regulated with severe punishments for violations;
2) Proper care requires more expertise than most pet owners possess;
3) Safety risks include physical harm caused by claws and beaks as well as disease transmission;
4) Separating them from their flock poses serious risk of psychological harm or mortality.
It is clear why owning a crow would not only pose a threat to oneself but also others around them – making it an illegal activity throughout much of the world.

What Type Of Care Do Crows Need?

Crows are intelligent birds that require a great deal of care and attention when kept as pets. As an ornithologist, I am here to tell you what type of care they need.

Crows need ample space to fly in, so it is important to provide them with a large enough enclosure to accommodate their wingspan. They also need plenty of fresh food and water; seed or grain mixes, fruit, vegetables, mealworms and wax worms will all feed them adequately. It’s essential to keep the cage clean too – uneaten food should be removed daily and any wet bedding should be replaced regularly. Additionally, crows love toys! Anything from plastic swings and ladders to foraging balls can help stimulate their minds and give them something fun to do during the day.

As well as physical needs, crows also crave companionship from humans or other animals; if kept alone it is vital that they receive lots of interaction with people or other birds. Caring for one requires dedication; regular handling must take place in order for them to become tame and trustful around people. With patience and consistency these fascinating creatures can make wonderful companions who bring joy into our lives.

Are There Any Exceptions To Owning A Crow?

Owning a crow is generally illegal due to the species’ protected status as migratory birds. Despite this, there are some exceptions in certain regions and circumstances where it may be permissible to own one of these intelligent creatures.
For instance, those who participate in falconry – the art of using trained raptors for hunting – can sometimes obtain permits from their local wildlife services agency which allow them to keep crows if they abide by various regulations set out by the government. Additionally, captive-bred crows have been known to make excellent companion animals; however, potential owners must first ensure that they are complying with any relevant state or federal laws before attempting to obtain one of these remarkable birds.
In summary, while owning a crow is typically not allowed in most parts of the world due to its protected status as a migratory bird, there are rare occasions when such ownership might be allowable given specific conditions and/or exemptions granted by local wildlife agencies.

Are There Any Other Animals That Have Similar Protection Laws?

In the United States, owning crows is illegal. This raises an important question: are there any other animals that have similar protection laws? The answer is yes; many birds throughout North America receive special legal protections from ownership and capture.

Ornithologists recognize several species of birds in particular as being particularly vulnerable to exploitation or endangerment due to their popularity among pet owners. These include raptors such as eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and vultures, which can be found in all 50 states across the nation. Raptors possess sharp talons and beaks that make them dangerous for humans to handle, so they require specialized care if kept captive. Therefore, it’s illegal to own these birds without a permit issued by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Additionally, many native songbirds – including robins, cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers also cannot legally be captured or owned in most cases due to their status as protected migratory species under federal law.

These restrictions exist to ensure that wild bird populations remain healthy and abundant while preventing individual birds from suffering unnecessarily through captivity or poaching. In addition to permitting requirements for certain species of birds, many states have implemented additional regulations on keeping wild animals as pets that could otherwise potentially be exploited for private gain.

Is it Possible to Train a Crow if Owning Them is Illegal?

Is it possible to train crows effectively with this guide if owning them is illegal? Despite legal restrictions, training crows is feasible. This guide offers insights on how crows can be conditioned to perform tasks, recognize faces, and even use vending machines. Through positive reinforcement and patience, these intelligent creatures can become valuable companions.


In conclusion, it is important to remember that the laws surrounding owning crows vary depending on where you live. Generally speaking, however, it is illegal to own a crow due to their high intelligence and need for specific care. In fact, research has found that crows are some of the most intelligent animals in the world; even surpassing primates on certain tests! This means they require more attention than other pet birds, which can be difficult to provide consistently.

The law also protects these intelligent creatures from being taken advantage of by humans who may not understand how best to take care of them or could exploit their smarts. There are exceptions when it comes to ownership such as educational purposes or rehabilitation centers, but otherwise there are few legal ways for one to possess a crow. Other animals have similar protection regulations; vultures and raptors cannot be owned without proper permits too.

Crow owners should be aware of local laws before attempting to keep one as a pet if they wish to avoid potential fines or criminal charges. Although there are many fascinating aspects about crows and their behavior worthy of admiration, we must respect their rights and ensure our actions do not endanger them any further.