Tag Archives: crows

The Differences Between Crows and Ravens

22 Dec

My friend, BEG, asked if I would please talk about the differences between Crows and Ravens. I described those differences briefly but now will do so in more detail.

American Crow

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large black bird (16-21 in). They are widespread and common. If you see a large black bird, it’s most likely a crow. They tend to flock and can congregate in extremely large numbers — up to 2 million birds. If you see one crow, you almost always will see 10 more. Crows make a caw-caw sound. Crows in flight show their “fingers” but not as much as a Raven. I didn’t have a picture but found a good one on Flickr {click}. Crows eat carrion but need another animal to open it up first (or decay to soften things up sufficiently — ewwww!)

More walking

Common Ravens (Corvus Corax) are very large black birds (22-27 in). It is larger in every way. Most notably, it’s beak is much, much larger. Ravens have an extremely diverse range — from the Arctic to the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. They are generally secretive and are considered one of the smartest of all birds. Ravens also roost in large numbers but much less commonly than Crows. Ravens are more often seen in pairs. Ravens also have a large throat ruff (see below). Ravens make a kronk-kronk sound. However, they also make all sorts of other sounds such as knocks, gurgles, etc. Ravens have a blunt tail. In flight, Ravens’ primary feathers make “fingers” as they are longer and seperate (see below). Ravens also soar more than Crows do. Ravens are also acrobats in the air whereas Crows do not tend toward diving toward the earth, spinning in flight, nor flying upside down as Ravens will sometimes do. Ravens eat carrion and are large enough and strong enough to eat fresh carrion — as evidence by the picture above which was taken in front of my house when a squirrel fell in front of a car. The Ravens ate well that day.

Displaying
Raven showing off his neck ruff.

Common Raven, flying
Raven soaring with his “fingers” showing

For my money, Ravens are so amazing as to overshadow the poor crow. Ravens are larger, louder, and smarter. I admire them so much. I feel so lucky to get to see them everyday at school and at home. A pair moved into our neighborhood and I’m thrilled by that. They are social and solitary; smart and secretive. I don’t say this to offend fans of the American Crow — they are amazing as well but for me, the Raven is something else again.