Common ravens (Corvus corax) belong to the Corvidae family, Passeriformes order, Aves class, and Corvus genus. They are also called western ravens and northern ravens. They are classified as the largest perching birds or songbirds. They have the same size as a hawk. There are almost ten species of these heavy-billed dark birds. They are found across Northern Hemisphere. They inhabit northern tundra, boreal forests, barren mountains, and deserts.
They have glossy black feathers that have blue or purplish iridescence. Their bill is thick and curved, their tail is wedge-shaped, and throat feathers are called hackles. These are some distinguishing features of ravens. They exhibit a croaking call while soaring. They are intelligent, aggressive, and extremely adaptive that can survive in all seasons. These birds were considered as a symbol of death, disease, and pestilence. In some myths, they were also considered as a symbol of cleverness and fearlessness.
They feed on insects, grains, rodents, and birds’ eggs. They are mostly solitary but can also live in the form of flocks. Their breeding season starts in autumn and winter. The nesting sites are the top of the cliff, tree, abandoned building, telephone pole, etc. The nests are made from twigs and sticks that are lined with the help of tree bark and mud and then softened by soft materials like fur. Their courtship rituals include soaring and aerial acrobatics.
They have an average size of about 25 inches, an average weight of about 1.5 pounds to 3.6 pounds, and an average wingspan of about 45 inches to 51 inches. They exhibit a top speed of about 40 miles per hour.
Some of the predators of these birds are eagles, owls, coyotes, cougars, marten, goshawks, red-tailed hawks, and lynxes. The major threat to ravens is humans. Certain highways, landfills, parks, and artificial water bodies are put up for human needs. Besides these threats, they are considered as least concerned by International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their population is approximately 16 million, and it is even rising. Their average lifespan is 13 to 44 years.
Common Raven Range:
Common ravens are the most widespread birds worldwide. They are found across northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, British Isles, Scandinavia, Central Asia, Pacific Ocean, northwestern India, Himalayas, Iranian region, Canary Islands, northwestern Africa, and Central America (as far south as Nicaragua).
Common Raven Vs Crow:
Ravens are crow look similar. Both are very intelligent birds. But, they have some distinguishable differences. Some of them are,
- Ravens have greater size, greater weight, and greater wingspan as compared to crows.
- The bill of a raven is large in size as compared to crows.
- Ravens exhibit curved bills that have a tuft of hair on top. Crows exhibit flat bills that don’t have a tuft of hair on top.
- The feathers of ravens are shiny and wet sheen while the feathers of crows are less shiny.
- The feathers of ravens look ragged while fluffing, while the feathers of crows look like a mane while fluffing.
- Ravens exhibit wedge-shaped tails and pointed wings, while crows have fan-shaped tails and splayed wings.
- Crows exhibit harsher sounds as compared to ravens. The characteristic call of crow is “kaw.” Ravens exhibit less piercing sounds like “Gronk-Gronk,” “wonk-wonk,” “tok,” and “crook.”
- Ravens’ diet includes amphibians, reptiles, small invertebrates, birds, small mammals, and carrion. Crows’ diet includes fruits, nuts, birds, earthworms, frogs, seeds, mice, and carrion.
- They both have different meanings in different myths. In Irish mythology, crows are considered as the symbol of war and death. In Cornish folklore, they are considered as otherworld species. In Australian Aboriginal mythology, they are considered ancestral beings. In Buddhism, they are considered as the protector of dharma. Then come the ravens. They are considered gods by the people of North America and northeast Asia. There are some references to ravens in the Old Testament of the Bible. In the British Isles, they are considered as the symbol of Celts.
- Ravens are less social as compared to crows.
- Ravens have an average lifespan of about 30 years. Crows have an average lifespan of about eight years.
Common Raven Call:
Common ravens are extremely vocal birds. They exhibit almost 33 different categories of vocalizations. They are intelligent birds with varied vocabulary. Their calls include “croaks,” “gurglings,” and “tok.”
Common Raven Size:
Common ravens are the largest and heaviest perching or songbirds. Their average size is about 25 inches.
Common Raven Scientific Name:
Common raven belongs to Animalia kingdom, Chordata phylum, Aves class, Passeriformes order, Corvidae family, and Corvus genus.
The scientific name of the Common raven is “Corvus corax.” The word “Corvus” is derived from the Latin word meaning “Raven,” and the word “Corax” is derived from the Greek word meaning “Raven” or “Crow.”
There are 8 to 11 subspecies of Common raven. Some of them include Corvus corax varius (found in Iceland and Faroe Islands), Corvus corax tinnitus (found in North Africa and the Canary Islands), Corvus corax subcortex (from Greece eastwards to northwestern India), Corvus corax Tibetans (found in the Himalayas), Corvus corax kamtschaticus (found in Northeastern Asia), Corvus corax principalis (found in North America and Greenland), Corvus corax sinuatus (found in Central and South America).
Common Raven Behavior:
Common ravens are usually solitary but can also live in the form of flocks. When ravens gather in the form of flocks, they are often considered as unkindnesses.
Young ravens become attracted to new things, especially when they are shiny. Adults become lazy with age, but they are good at problem-solving.
Common ravens are intelligent and adaptive birds. They can survive any kind of weather. They don’t know exhibit migration usually but can move within their range in extreme weather conditions. They exhibit gliding, soaring, and aerial acrobatics.
Breeding pairs are territorial. These birds are very dedicated to the protection of their young ones from predators. They not only scold the approaching predator but also throw rocks over their heads. That’s the reason they are considered aggressive birds.
Common Raven Wingspan:
Common ravens are the largest among songbirds. They can travel greater distances with great speed. The average wingspan is 45 inches to 51 inches.
Common Raven Diet:
Common ravens are omnivores. They eat a variety of food. They feed on small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods, and insects. They also eat fruits, grains, and berries. They are known as pests for farmers. They are scavengers and can eat carrion. Other food items include human garbage, roadkill, and newly born lambs, goats, and calves, also undigested food in feces.
The poisonous food items are chocolate, heavy metals (lead and copper), and seeds of apples, pears, and apricots (containing cyanide).
Common Raven Habitat:
Common ravens are widely distributed across the northern hemisphere. They inhabit open landscapes, including tundra, riverbanks, seacoasts, rocky cliffs, mountain forests, deserts, plains, and scrubby woodlands. They inhabit all the places of humans but not as much as crows.
They mostly roost on cliff edges, large trees, billboards, and abandoned buildings.
Common Raven Vs American Crow:
Some of the differences between the Common raven and American crow are as follows,
- Common ravens inhabit mountains and more wild places. American crows are highly adaptable. They can be found anywhere.
- Ravens can be solitary as well as in flocks. American crows live in large flocks.
- Ravens have a characteristic “croak” call. American crows exhibit “kaw” call.
- Common ravens are bigger and heavier than American crows.
- Common ravens have long tails that are wedge-shaped. American crows have smaller tails that are fan-shaped.
- Ravens exhibit more graceful flight as compared to American crows.
- Common ravens have thick and curved beaks. American crows have thin and straight beaks.
Both the Common raven and American crow are quite similar in appearance, but all of the distinguishable features should also be considered.
Common ravens (western ravens, northern ravens, corbies, Corbeau) are the largest perching birds that are part of many myths and are widely distributed across the northern hemisphere. They are highly intelligent, adaptive, and problem-solving birds. They are well known for their aggressive calls, curved beaks, wedge-shaped tails, hackles on their neck, excellent gliding and soaring, aerial acrobatics, huge wingspan, and a wide variety of food. They have a stable population, and it is even increasing.