Are Crows Nocturnal or Diurnal?

If you’ve ever seen crows swarm overhead at night or heard them cawing in the distance once the sun goes down, you may assume that these sometimes creepy birds must be nocturnal.While these behaviors and most Hollywood film portrayals of crows might convince you that they are most active at night, crows are in fact diurnal birds.

Read on to learn more about how crows live, the difference between nocturnal and diurnal birds, and what it might mean if you see crows out at night.

What does diurnal mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word diurnal as “active chiefly in the daytime”. Diurnal is the opposite of nocturnal, which is defined as “of, relating to, or occurring in the night”.

What do crows do during the day?

As diurnal birds, crows are most active during the day. Sometimes they may take off alone for a while or group up with a few others to forage for food depending on their mood. This can change daily.

Crows are very social, which is why you will often see groups of them flocked together making noise and playing around. 

Do crows stay around their roost during the day?

Crows’ daily activity and the distance they stray from their nest depends on whether or not it is a breeding season.

During the breeding season (early Spring), crows tend to stick closer to the roost even when they are out during the day. This is so that they can regularly feed the pregnant female crows who stay back at the nest area and to keep a close eye on any babies.

For the rest of the year, crows do not always stay close to home and have been known to travel as many as 30-40 miles in a single day to find food. They typically will travel to the same location regularly, and often meet up with other crows along the way to form a large flock.

Do crows stay together during the day?

Most often, yes. Crows regularly travel in groups during the day because they can gang up on predators with ease and quickly notify each other of things like the location of food or approaching danger.

You will sometimes notice that crows seem to “play” together. They are very playful birds and are often seen congregating noisily.

Crows will regularly gather in large groups socially just to be together or share information. They seem to genuinely seek out social interaction. Also, they will often come together around a meal or to hold funerals when a member of their flock dies.

What do crows eat every day?

Because crows can eat almost anything, a large portion of their daytime activity is devoted to foraging for food. They will often structure their day around a great location that provides a variety of interesting food.

They are omnivores, meaning they regularly consume both plants and animal meat. Because they can find something to eat almost anywhere, they are highly adaptable to many different environments. Crows love to hunt for and sometimes even play with their food.

They will eat other animals and insects, scavenge for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other plants, and of course, are known to pick through the trash for anything they can find.

What do crows do at night?

Crows typically roost in large groups high up in trees at night. This is considered the safest thing for crows to do at night because being far off the ground with a great vantage point provides protection from predators.

How many crows roost together at a time?

This number varies widely, but the numbers can range from a handful to thousands of crows in one roost. 

Do crows roost in the same spot every night?

Once a roost has been established, crows will typically return there each night. During the day, they may break off into smaller groups called “flocks” but they will all come back together to roost in the original spot at night.

It has been reported that roost sites that are found to be safe and undisturbed by predators will be used for years.

Do crows sleep in nests?

No, crows most often sleep standing up in trees instead of laying down in a nest as that is what is most comfortable for them. Also, by sleeping standing up they are able to remain on guard throughout the night to protect their flock, especially any babies, from predators if needed.

Crows really only use their nests as a place for their babies, and they fiercely protect it from outsiders.

Can crows fly at night?

Sometimes. Crows don’t see very well at night, which is a big reason why they don’t often fly after dark. However, most crows reside in urban or suburban areas and the artificial light in densely populated areas can help them see if they do need to fly in a pinch.

What does it mean if you see crows out at night?

If you see or hear crows active after dark, you can assume that there is most likely some kind of threat they are responding to.

The most common threat would be a predator attacking their roost. Crows who are on the perimeter of the roost are usually responsible for keeping watch while the others sleep and must alert the others of any potential threats.

Why do crows roost in densely populated areas at night?

Simply put, safety and food.

Populated areas usually have tall trees or buildings that are spaced out, which is ideal for roosting. The ability to find a spot that is high up, but allows them to still see their surroundings, is key.

If crows are roosting at night in a tightly wooded, rural area, they are very vulnerable. They are much less likely to see predators coming early enough to be able to react through thick tree cover.

A busier area also means more food. By sticking to where the people are, crows can treat themselves to a diverse feast on a daily basis including dumpster pickings, roadkill, and much more.


Crows are diurnal and they are active during the daytime. They roost and sleep before sunset as they can’t see in dark but sometimes you might find them awake at night and this could only be possible if they get attacked by any predator.

Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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