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Common Raven

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Common Raven

Common Raven

Gordon Ellmers

Common Name:

Common Raven

Scientific Name:

Corvus corax

Appearance:

  • Bill: Thick and straight with curved tip, large compared to head size
  • Size: 23-26 inches long with 46-inch wingspan, similar in size to small hawks
  • Colors: All black bill and plumage may appear glossy or dull
  • Markings: All black coloration does not have distinctive markings, but feathers on chin and throat are longer and shaggy. Tail shows a clear wedge shape in flight.

Foods:

Trash, eggs, insects, small animals, fruit

Habitat and Migration:

Common ravens are found in a range of habitats throughout all of Canada and Alaska and in the United States west of the Rocky Mountains south to Mexico and Central America. Small but growing populations are also found in the Appalachian Mountains and northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and New York. These birds do not migrate.

Vocalizations:

Common ravens have a deep voice that can seem to echo. Their vocabulary is large and includes croaks, knocks, gurgles, whistles and screams that sound hoarse or raspy.

Behavior:

Believed to be one of the smartest songbirds, common ravens will follow predators to scavenge from a kill. When one bird discovers carrion such as road kill or an abandoned kill from other predators, it will call other birds to the corpse to overwhelm potential competitors by sheer numbers of feeding birds.

These birds are acrobatic flyers and can perform long glides, swift turns, rolls and may even fly upside down. They will often soar over highways to find dead animals.

Reproduction:

Male and female birds mate for life and work together to build a complex basket or platform nest made from wool, fur, grasses and other materials, often lined with mud. Pairs raise one brood of three to six nestlings per year. Females incubate eggs for 18-21 days and the fledgling bird stage lasts from 38-44 days while both parents feed the young birds. Pairs will reuse the same nesting site year after year.

Attracting Common Ravens:

Common ravens are difficult to attract to backyards because of their preference for meat and carrion. Birders who supply insects may attract ravens, particularly in rural areas where more road kill is likely along isolated roads.

Similar Birds:

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