Confused about a raven and a crow and want to know the reliable differences between these two blackbirds? This article is for you.
Today we are going to show you all the differences between a Raven vs Crow.
At first glance, you might think that ravens and crows appear to be very similar but actually, they are not. Although both these birds are members of the Corvidae family, which includes 133 different species of birds. There are several important differences between these two types of birds. Let’s look further.
We knew that Ravens and crows are coming from the same family, which also includes jays, magpies, and rooks. You should also know that these two birds are closely related to each other as they are both members of the genus Corvus.
There are around 45 species of Corvus, 9 of which are classified as ravens. Well, It’s not easy to differentiate ravens and crows by their appearance. You have to know more about these two beautiful birds.
The most obvious differences between ravens and crows are their size and weight. Ravens typically are much larger and longer than crows. In fact, the largest raven species can weigh up to four times as much as the largest crow species. An average Ravven has a size of 25 inches and a weight of up to 1.2 KG.
Even if you compare it with the American crow which ranges with a size of 20 inches and has a weight of 600 grams, ravens are still the clear winners in both the specs.
The Carrion Crow is a species of crow native to Europe and the eastern Palearctic region. Comparing the carrion crow with the American crow, the carrion’s size is big but still falls short with ravens.
As ravens are much heavier than carrions. The average size of a common carrion is 17.7 to 18 inches and weighs around 650 grams.
Even if you take the Chihuahuan raven, which is considered the smallest species of all ravens still has a bigger size compared to the crows.
Not only the size, but you will also see a lot of differences like the thickness of its feathers, big bills, etc. Ravens like to live alone rather socially whereas crows are more social birds.
Don’t think that it’s over, we have still got a lot of information to show you the differences between ravens and crows. Let’s take a closer look at these blackbirds to clear up the confusion.
Raven vs Crow – Quick Differences chart
|Songs and voice||Ravens make many different kinds of calls varying from a low, gurgling croak to harsh grating sounds and shrill alarm calls.||The American Crow is known for a series of loud caws.|
|Size||Length: 22.1-27.2 in (56-69 cm)||Length: 15.8-20.9 in (40-53 cm)|
|Wing shape||Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in (116-118 cm)||Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in (85-100 cm)|
|Tail shape||Long tail||Uniform tail|
|Flight||Strong, quick direct flight||Strong, quick direct flight|
|Flocks||Small groups||Large flocks|
|Lifespan||15 years||7 years|
|Habitat||Parks, gardens, pastures, yards, fields, pine forests, golf courses, tundra, woodlands, shrublands, and regenerating forests||Parks, backyards, shrubby forests and woodlots, cities.|
Are ravens a type of crow?
Yes. Ravens are a type of crow. How? – We have already said to you that raves are coming from the Corvus genus family. They are often thought of as their own distinct taxonomic group, but they actually fall within the Corvus genus.
In the Latin language, the crow is known as Corvus. So at some point, technically we can say that ravens can be said as a type of crow.
But, officially we cannot name it a crow. Because ravens are very intelligent birds compared to any Corvus family bird or crow.
By their appearance, you might become excited thinking that ravens and crows are one and the same. Yes, of course, in some features – they are. But according to the theory, thousands of years back these two species have been developed independently.
Just like – The two species diverged from a common ancestor, with the American Raven evolving into a larger and more robust bird, with a heavier bill, and a longer wingspan.
The Common Crow, on the other hand, evolved into a smaller and more agile bird with a shorter wingspan and a lighter bill. In a true sense, they are not the same birds as they look.
Here is another bird from Australia known as the Australian raven which also looks like the Torresian crow.
Now, this might be very Confusing, isn’t it?
There’s still to know – The Corvus genus contains not only ravens and crows, but also an outlier in the form of the rook.
But Rooks’s appearance is completely different compared to both ravens and crows and is only found in Europe and parts of Asia.
Now here comes one more, there is also the Somali crow, named Dwarf raven!
This bird is found in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. It is the smallest member of the Corvus genus. So there you have it – three different birds, all often referred to as ‘crows’, which are actually quite different from one another!
The categorization of birds has long been a source of debate among taxonomists. Due to the vast number of species and the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a species, there is still no real agreement on how to classify birds.
For instance, birds like jackdaws and larks are said to belong to the Corvus genus family but recently it has been confirmed that they are from the Genus Coloeus.
Just to confirm for you – Ravens, crows, rooks, jackdaws, jays, and magpies are all part of the corvid family. There may be some similarities between these birds, but the best way to identify them is as different species. Because each has its own unique behaviors and physical features that set it apart from the others.
Which is bigger, a raven or a crow?
Ravens are certainly larger and heavier than crows. In fact, they are stronger compared to crows. An average common raven or a thick-billed raven can weigh up to 1.5 kg with a size of 28 inches. You can count them as one of the biggest passerine birds.
American Crow Mesurements
- Both Sexes
- Length: 15.8-20.9 in (40-53 cm)
- Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz (316-620 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in (85-100 cm)
Common Raven Measurements
- Both Sexes
- Length: 22.1-27.2 in (56-69 cm)
- Weight: 24.3-57.3 oz (689-1625 g)
- Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in (116-118 cm)
Carrion crow measurements
- Both Sexes
- Length: 17.7 to 18.5 in ( 45 -47 cm )
- Weight: 8 to 1.4 lbs ( 370 – 650 g)
The Chihuahuan raven, which is said to be the smallest raven in the species is found in North America. These ravens are about the same size as crows, making them difficult to tell apart. There’s one more raven that looks the same as the Chihuahuan raven in size and weight – called a little raven.
What we can clearly see is, all the ravens are much bigger in terms of size compared to any type of crow. Even if you take the smallest species of a raven, still they are equal to the largest crow in size.
However, you cannot distinguish these two birds by taking the size and weight as this is not always a reliable method. There is considerable overlap between the two groups.
One of the most noticeable differences between ravens and crows is the size of their beaks. Ravens generally have larger beaks than crows, especially the thick-billed raven bill rage from 8 to 9 cm long.
Which is smarter, a crow or a raven?
Birds that fall under Corvids like jackdaws, magpies, rooks, ravens, and crows are super intelligent feathers. In fact, they can be said as one of the most intelligent bird families in the bird world. Researchers have also confirmed it way back about corvids.
Well, It’s not easy to split every single corvid species into different groups in terms of intelligence. However, we have come up with some true information on ravens and magpies.
Recent studies have shown that the Common raven is capable of tackling the most complex problem-solving tasks of any corvid.
For example, ravens have been observed using tools to obtain food, and they are also able to remember the location of food caches over long periods of time.
If you take Magpies, they are super smart with mirror self-recognition. This means that they are able to recognize their own reflection in a mirror, something that only a handful of other species are known to be capable of.
This not ends here, ravens and crowns can also know the behavior of other animals and can track their minds upfront.
One of the most curious talks about the corvid is – how they behave when someone in their family dies. These intelligent birds have been observed holding what looks like funerals, complete with rituals and mournful vocalizations.
A theory says that these funeral rituals may also help corvids to remember the individual who has died and to warn others of potential dangers.
So while ravens may be better at problem-solving, Crows have been shown to be better than ravens at recognizing faces. For instance – The Caledonian crow is just one example that shows an amazing capacity for using objects as tools compared to any animal in the world.
Another intriguing behavior of crows is their tendency to ‘gift’ objects to humans which is quite astonishing. Bird experts are still in search of the reason behind this behavior of crows.
The intelligence debate between a crow and a raven is not going to end for sure. As researchers will go on to find new things about these species. What we can say is, both these blackbirds are super intelligent in their respective areas.
Which are more common, ravens or crows?
There are around 45 species of the Corvus genus and 9 of them have the word raven in their common name. So, while ravens may be more popular in terms of folklore and legend but when you talk about the population of the genus, crows are more common than ravens.
Crows are found on every continent except for Antarctica, while ravens are found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
If you want to know in numbers – There are around 16 million ravens left in the world. And, if you take the American crows, it’s around 31 million including the carrion crows are around 100 million.
The numbers may not look realistic but we can sense that the crow’s population is more than the ravens. Because we see crows very often than ravens. So, in the true sense, crows are more common than ravens. If you see a dozen crows, you may see 1 raven possibly.
More differences between a raven and a crow
Till now, we have differentiated the size, species, weight, and beak of these two birds. It’s time to move on and see what are all the other differences they have got.
In terms of body color – both birds are filled with black color. Ravens have thicker feathers than crows, with longer primary wing feathers.
They also tend to have a more oily appearance than crows. Whereas, crow’s feathers are small and crisp. If you talk about tails, ravens have longer ones and crows have a precise tail size.
Ravens are known for their shaggy and unkempt appearance where the plumage is usually darker as well, with a lustrous black sheen. In contrast, crows have smoother plumage with a duller black coloration.
Crows are generally quite gregarious, often forming flocks that can be seen in large numbers. Ravens, on the other hand, are more likely to be found alone or in smaller groups.
In terms of reproduction, both crows and ravens are generally monogamous. While ravens may mate with multiple partners during their lifetime as they love mating very much.
Both are highly intelligent birds that are known for their territorial behavior. They defend their territories with the full sphere. Crows are actually more aggressive in behavior when it comes to feeding and roosting.
Not all crow species are gregarious. There are some solitary crows Like the carrion crows. Whereas, rooks are more social birds, congregating in large numbers. You will see different varieties of behavior from the Corvus genus.
Habitat and Environment
Crows have proven to be very adaptable to habitats and environments. Originally found in woods and forests, they have increasingly made their homes in cities and towns. They are generally quite territorial but sometimes they tolerate the presence of other birds in their environment.
Ravens are known for their solitary habits. Unlike other birds, ravens step away from high-density bird areas. Instead, they prefer more isolated environments and habitats such as mountain cliffs or forests. This is likely because ravens are very territorial birds, and they don’t want to share their space with other birds.
Calls and Vocalisation
Ravens and crows are known for their complex communication skills. Both species are capable of making a variety of different calls and sounds, but their calls vary in tone and pitch. Ravens have deep, bassy calls, while crows have higher-pitched, harsher-sounding calls.
Do crows and ravens mate with each other?
Bird hybridization is a fascinating topic for ornithologists. While these two bird species are coming from the same genus and family, there’s no surprise to interbreed these birds.
Although we have already spoken, ravens and crows are not closely related to each other in the true sense or near to their ancestor.
Generally, for interbreeding, there must be a close ancestor. Otherwise, there’s no question of interbreeding. Just like the ravens and crows – they never going to mate together.
There’s never going to be compatibility between the ravens and crows. Whenever and wherever these blackbirds come in front of each other – they behave very aggressively. They simply hate by seeing each other.
According to some sources, there was a case of the Common raven and the American crow. These two birds are known to be natural enemies, but in Toronto, Canada, they have been observed living together in harmony.
For the next three years, they both lived together and built a nest, mating done, and eventually gave birth to two fledglings. This was more like a surprise and unreal to the ornithologists.
There was one more proof of evidence that hybridization is going smoothly with the corvid family which also includes raves and crows.
They have seen positive results too with hybridization. It’s just a myth that these two blackbirds don’t have any compatibility with each other but the reality is – they can interbreed if all the conditions are favoring them.
Do Ravens like crows?
It’s no surprise that for centuries ravens and crows have always been natural enemies. These two bird species have been locked in a battle for supremacy, with crows constantly hassling ravens and trying to steal their food.
Amongst birds of the same genus, it is not uncommon for ravens to take notice of crowing mobbing behavior and generally have greater speed and swooping ability than crows.
In the bird world, mobbing behavior is when one bird harasses another in an attempt to drive it away. This usually happens when the bird being mobbed is perceived as a threat to the group.
Crows are known to be very good at this behavior, and they will often target ravens because they are seen as a threat to the crow’s territory.
Are crows more aggressive than the Ravens?
Till now, what we have observed on the above lines, crows are more violent than ravens. Although ravens also defend their territories, mostly they are very calm in behavior. Whereas, crows are always troubling the other animals for food and other stuff.
Do crows hang out with ravens?
In short – the answer is no. Crows and ravens are not the best of friends. In fact, these two species are often at loggerheads with each other. They allow each other’s territories due to the same habitats and environment. Crows and ravens do not typically associate with one another as they hate spending time with each other.
Why do crows chase Ravens?
Crows chase ravens for several things. One is the definitely for the food and nesting because their habitats are closely related. They try to attack each other’s nests and steal the eggs for eating. Both these species are more aggressive in the breeding season as they protect their territories at any cost.
With all such brutal behavior, ravens and crows are completely averse to each other. It’s not the crow and raven, in fact, the whole corvids family have the same aggressiveness and are also known for their mischievous nature.
Do crows and ravens talk to each other?
Birds are very sharp and can detect the calls of other birds. It’s their own way of communicating with each other to defend their areas and for mating. Same with these soot-black birds including crows, ravens, magpies, and jays. They are known for their clever antics.
One of their most intriguing behaviors is their ability to imitate each other’s calls. Although they don’t talk with each other. But this mimicry likely serves a purpose in helping them to establish their nesting grounds and territories. When two corvids meet, they will often caw back and forth at each other, seeking to assert their dominance.
My self Mark. I have been birding for the last 10 years. Birdwatching is and will be my favorite hobby.