Palm Crow Corvus palmarum


Justification of Red List Category
With the use of a Minimum Convex Polygon to assess the species' Extent of Occurrence, although the species may have a restricted range, it is no longer believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years of three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, on account of hunting and forest loss and, perhaps in Cuba, competition with C. nasicus.

Distribution and population

This species constitutes two races, the nominate was formerly widespread in wooded areas from the lowlands to the mountains on Hispaniola (Garrido et al. 1997); however, it has decreased and is now localised, although not uncommon (Madge and Burn 1993), in Sierra de Baoruco, Isla Cabritos and the Cordillera Central of the Dominican Republic, and only remains locally common in the Massif de la Selle (Madge and Burn 1993, Dávalos and Brooks 2001) and in the northern pine belt of Haiti (Latta et al. 2006). The Cuban race C. p. minutus has a very restricted range (Garrido et al. 1997, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000). It is rare and local (Madge and Burn 1993), with the only recent records being from five 'municipios' south of Camagüey city in south-central Camagüey province (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). These five municipalities are (in order of importance) Najasa, Jimaguayú, Vertientes, Santa Cruz and Camagüey city (Regalado in press). In Najasa, it is locally quite common (Madge and Burn 1993, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), but although it has undergone historic declines (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998) surveys suggest that it remained stable between 2000-2006 (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). Although it has also been recorded from Pinar del Rio provinces (La Manaja, Los Acostas and El Francisco), there has only been one (undocumented) report from this area within the last 50 years (Kirkconnell et al. 2005). The species is historically known from Pan Valley, at Guajibon and in the Vinales Valley (Pinar del Rio province); Yaguaramas, near Cienfuegos; in the Trinidad Valley; and in the Sierra de Banao (Sancti Spiritus province) (Kirkconnell et al. 2005). It is thought to have had a wider distribution in Camagüey province in the past, occupying municipalities in the north: Cubitas, Minas and Guáimaro (Regalado in press).


On Hispaniola, birds are usually seen in small to medium-sized groups, foraging on the ground or in trees for fruit, seeds, insects, snails and lizards (Raffaele et al. 1998). In Haiti, it has even been recorded around local food markets (T. M. Brooks in litt. 2000). In Cuba the species is now known only from lowland cultivation with scattered groups of Royal Palms Roystonea regia (Madge and Burn 1993, P. Regalado in prep. 2016). Nests are located in stands of tall palms (Madge and Burn 1993), with breeding from March-July (Raffaele et al. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000). It roosts communally, including with C. nasicus where the two species co-occur (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).


On Hispaniola, its decline is a result of widespread forest clearance for agriculture and probably also hunting for food (it is reputedly a delicacy) and sport (Madge and Burn 1993, Latta et al. 2006). It is more abundant on Haiti where gun ownership is lower (Latta et al. 2006). In Cuba, although partial clearance of dense forest may not have affected the species, the intensive clearance of Royal Palm Roystonea regia (in which the species nests) for agriculture and livestock grazing may be causing declines and local extirpation, such as in Camagüey province (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). Housing developments have replaced much suitable habitat, and human disturbance of breeding sites and foraging areas may present a further threat (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). The species is extremely intolerant of humans and now only lives in municipalities with the lowest human population densities (P. Regalado in prep. 2016). Competition with the Cuban Crow following range shifts caused by habitat destruction was previously thought to be a potential threat (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), but it has since been suggested that the two species occupy different niches (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species is legally protected in Cuba. It occurs in a number of national parks, such as the Sierra de Bahoruco, Dominican Republic and La Bélen protected area near Najasa, Cuba (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), although nesting has been only infrequently recorded in La Bélen (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). 

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Ensure the effective protection of habitat in national parks. Discourage the clearance of native forest for agriculture. Afford protection to the species and enforce this protection to discourage hunting. Monitor the species and investigate the effect of hunting on populations. Support efforts to create an ecological station at Najasa in order to implement conservation actions for this and other key species in collaboration with local communities and regional authorities (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).


34-38 cm. Small to medium-sized, stocky black crow. Shortish bill with distinctly curved culmen and dark eye. Nostrils concealed by well-developed nasal tufts. Often slowly raises tail before suddenly flicking it downwards. Similar spp Cuban Crow C. nasicus is larger with exposed nostrils, but best separated by call. Tail flicking not recorded for C. nasicus. On Hispaniola White-necked Crow C. leucognaphalus is larger and also has exposed nostrils, it is also best separated by call. Voice Raucous nasal note craa or aagh usually given in series. Flocks can be very noisy. Hints Most easily found in noisy groups in high altitude pine forest.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Wege, D., Westrip, J., Wheatley, H., Hermes, C., Fisher, S., Ashpole, J, Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Harding, M., O'Brien, A., Pople, R.

Regalado, P., Fernandez, E., Mitchell, A., Brooks, T., Brocca, J., Kirkconnell, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Corvus palmarum. Downloaded from on 28/11/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/11/2020.