Common Raven (Corvus corax)


Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family:    Corvidae
Size:    Height: Up to 27 inches (68 cm)  Wingspan: 48 inches (122 cm) or more
Weight: 1.5 to 3.5 pounds (0.68 to 1.6 kg)
Diet: Carrion, insects, rodents, reptiles, small mammals, frogs, grain, acorns, cherries and eggs
Distribution: North America, Europe, North Africa, northern South America and parts of Asia
Young:  3 to 6 chicks, once a year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years in the wild and up to 29 in captivity



·      Ravens are members of the crow family.

·      Ravens have a deep, croaking call.

·      Various native cultures view the raven as the creator of man.

·      Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, entitled “The Raven,” popularized ravens as symbols of darkness and death.

·      Ravens are playful and enjoy performing acrobatics while flying.

·      The common raven is the provincial bird of Canada’s Yukon Territory.



Commonly confused with crows, ravens differ in several ways. Their call is deeper and sounds hoarse—more like a croak than the caw of a crow—and their calls are more varied, while crows caw the same call over and over. Ravens’ black bills are larger and heavier than those of crows, and their throat feathers appear spiky when fluffed up, while crows’ throat feathers are rounded and fan-shaped. Ravens also have wedge-shaped tail feathers, whereas crows’ tail feathers are fan-shaped. Ravens are about one-third larger than crows and are the largest all-black birds, standing two feet (61 cm) or taller, with wingspans of four feet (1.22 m) or more. 



In many areas, ravens have retreated back into the wilderness wherever civilization has encroached upon their territory, although they can still be found near farms, visiting places where they know food will be left out for them. Ravens can be found in a variety of habitats, including mountains, deserts and coastal areas. 


Feeding Habits

Although they are mainly scavengers, ravens will also eat insects, rodents, reptiles, small mammals, frogs, grain, acorns, cherries and eggs. 



Ravens are monogamous and once paired, remain mated for life. Ravens’ nests can be found in trees or on cliff ledges. They build their nests of sticks and twigs, using grass, string, wool and bark for lining. Hemlocks and spruces appear their favourite choices of nesting trees. In March, the female lays three to six greenish eggs with brown speckles. The female incubates the eggs for 18 to 20 days and both parents take turns feeding the young once they are hatched. If one of the pair is killed or dies, the other parent will find a helpmate that same day. The helpmate will be one of their offspring from the previous year, as they often do not begin mating until their third year or later and are thus available to help the parent with the youngest members of the family.



Ravens are friendly with other ravens, alerting them if there is an abundance of food nearby. They are adept fliers, as they glide, soar and perform acrobatics. Ravens are attracted to shiny objects and will pick up pieces of foil and fly off with them. They sometimes carry food with their feet.



Ravens are not considered a conservation concern.



Common Raven Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1999)