image credit - Gary M. Stolz; US Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain
The COMMON RAVEN or NORTHERN RAVEN is a member of the Corvidae family of birds which also includes crows, jays, magpies and rooks. They are considered the most intelligent birds.
Ravens are the largest perching birds in North America. They are very adaptable and can survive winters in the arctic or summers in the desert.
colour - glossy black feathers
bluish-purple in sunlight
tail - long, wedge-shaped
feet - strong, black
bill - black, thick, slightly hooked or curved (photo)
enemies - humans; also larger birds like owls, eagles, falcons, hawks
dive-bomb bigger birds to drive them off
defend themselves with claws and beak
MORE INTERESTING FACTS
over 30 different calls
calls of threats, warning,teasing, cheering, screaming
mimic other animals and even humans
hoarse, croaking kraaak, cr-r-r-u-k, prrrruk
hollow knocking sound like toc-toc-toc;
kloo-klak, often while in flight
a variety of musical calls
captive ravens have been taught to speak
ravens and crows
Ravens are larger than crows, nearly twice the size.
Ravens are as large as hawks; crows are the size of pigeons.
Crows have sharp, pointy beaks; a raven's beak is larger, heavier and curved.
Ravens have shaggy throat feathers.
Crows' tails are fan-shaped; ravens' tails are wedge-shaped.
Ravens soar and are acrobats in the sky; crows flap their wings and rarely soar.
The call of the crow is a nasal caw; the raven makes a deep, hoarse croak.
good and bad
Throughout history people thought of ravens as pests and evil birds that should be destroyed. Today in most countries it is illegal to kill ravens.
Still they are considered as pests because they are a threat to livestock and farmers' fruit and grain crops.
Ravens eat eggs and chicks of endangered species (least terns, California condors, sandhill cranes).
They also eat the eggs and young of the desert tortoise which is declining in numbers.
Common ravens help humans by eating pests (rodents, insects) and they clean up roadkill. They are also important in native cultures. The native peoples and the Inuit have legends about the raven. Stories and songs tell about Raven the Thief or Raven the Trickster.