More about Ravens (and Crows)

First, find out how to tell them apart.
Then have fun learning how clever and adaptable they are.


Crows and ravens can be tricky to tell apart by sight, but their voices are much more distinctive. Watch this video for some expert tips on the sounds these two common birds make and what those sounds mean. American Crows and Common Ravens have a repertoire of sounds beyond their signature "caw" and "kraa" calls. Learn more about the differences here.



The common raven

Also known as the northern raven, the Common Raven is a large all-black passerine bird. Found across the Northern Hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids.


Weight: 2.6 lbs
Wingspan: 3.3 – 4.9 ft
Group name:  flock, congress

Scientific name: Corvus corax
Higher classification: Crow
Lifespan: 13 - 17 years in wild


Many birds adapt to metropolitan life in this clip you can see how crows in Japan have integrated city life into their behaviour. From the BBC.



A raven in Austria has astounded scientists with his amazing intelligence and creativity. Here, four-year-old Ellias demonstrates his cunning through an elaborate game of strategy to protect his food.

Ravens rolling in the snow.




They are athletic and fun loving

Ravens enjoy rolling down snowy hills.

One bird was seen flying upside down for more than a half-mile.

Young birds are fond of playing games with sticks, repeatedly dropping them, then diving to catch them in midair.

They collaborate and form friendships

Ravens collaborate, often teaming up to hunt down game too large for a single bird.

They sometimes work in pairs, with one bird distracting while the other grabs a goodie.

Ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When one raven loses in a fight, its friend will seem to console the losing bird.


They are the smartest of all birds

A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers.  

In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots.

Ravens have the ability to make logical connections, much like human beings.

They are legendary

In North American folklore, ravens were the creators of the world. They were often portrayed as sly pranksters for their playful nature.

According to legend, if the ravens leave the Tower of London, the fortress and the British kingdom will fall. 


Heading photo by Paul Sulivan via Creative Commons. Raven print by Carol MacDonald.

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