The Surprising Meanings Behind Crow Calls: Understanding Why and When They Caw


From early morning to late at night, the cawing of crows can be heard throughout the day. While some may find their calls noisy and bothersome, have you ever wondered why crows caw, when they do it, and what their vocalizations mean? In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of crow communication and explore the hidden meanings behind their calls.


Main Reasons Why Crows Caw

There are four primary reasons why crows caw:

  1. Communication
    • Crows caw to communicate with their fellow birds.
    • They use calls to alert others about food sources, potential threats, or to gather the flock.
  2. Territorial Defense
    • Crows caw to defend their territory.
    • They warn other crows to stay away from their area.
  3. Intimidation
    • Crows caw to protect themselves from perceived threats.
    • They use their calls to intimidate predators such as birds of prey, cats, or humans.
  4. Courtship
    • Crows caw to attract potential mates.
    • During the breeding season, courtship calls can be heard frequently.

When and What Time of Day Do Crows Caw?

While crows caw throughout the year, their calls are more prominent during specific times and seasons:

  1. Breeding Season
    • During the spring and summer breeding season, crows caw extensively for courtship purposes.
    • They also vocalize frequently while building nests and raising their young.
  2. Early Morning and Late Afternoon
    • Crows are most active and vocal around sunrise and sunset.
    • Their calls are often heard as they gather at roosting sites or disperse from them.

Types of Crow Calls and Their Meanings

Crows have a varied repertoire of calls, each serving a specific purpose:

  1. Caw-Caw (Alarm or Warning)
    • This is the most common and recognizable crow call.
    • It is used to signal danger or to assert territory.
  2. Rattle (Contact Call)
    • Crows use this call to keep in touch with each other.
    • It is often heard when crows are flying or foraging together.
  3. Coo-Coo (Courtship)
    • Male crows use this soft, cooing call to attract females.
    • It is most often heard during the breeding season.


Crows caw for various reasons, including communication, territorial defense, intimidation, and courtship. Their calls are most frequent during the breeding season and early morning or late afternoon hours. Crows also employ different types of vocalizations, such as caws, rattles, and coos, each with a specific meaning. Far from being mere noise, crow calls reflect their daily lives and social structure. The next time you hear a crow cawing, take a moment to consider the fascinating message it might be conveying.