Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a raven and a crow? They certainly look similar, but these birds have several differences. Both birds belong to a family called “Corvidae“, and the collective group of crows is called a flock or a murder. A group of ravens is called an unkindness. Interesting names!
So, what is the difference between a raven and a crow? Ravens have larger bill, have different tail shape and flight pattern and are larger in size than crows. Crows have fan-shaped tails however Ravens have wedge-shaped tails.
You can find 8 key differences in this article.
- Mating habits
Raven vs Crow – 8 Key Differences Between A Raven And A Crow
Size of A Raven Vs Crow
The raven is a bigger bird, about the size of a red-tailed hawk. Crows, on the other hand, are about the size of a common pigeon. A raven can often be identified by its larger bill and tail and its flight pattern.
Both birds are black, but the raven has a wingspan of between 3.5-4 ft and is about 24-27 inches from her head to her tail. The crow’s wingspan is about 2.5 feet, and she is about 17 inches long.
The raven weighs almost twice as much as a crow, at 40 oz. Females are usually smaller in both crows and ravens.
Appearance of A Raven Vs Crow
Aside from size in crow vs raven, the birds look similar, but there are subtle differences. The raven has glossy plumage with hues of green, purple, and blue, and their feathers often appear to be wet.
The feathers on a crow are purple and blue but don’t appear as shiny. Ravens also have a fluffy ruff of feathers on the throat, referred to as hackles, and the crow has more of a smooth throat.
While crows have a tail shaped like a fan, with a blunt and splayed wing tip, the raven has a wedge-shaped tail with more slotting between them.
The wings of a raven make a swish sound, and the crows’ flight is almost silent. Ravens also have longer necks than crows.
Behavior of A Raven Vs Crow
One of the distinct similarities is that both the raven and crow are extremely smart. The raven is one of the most intelligent of all birds.
Ravens can communicate through a range of sounds through their call. They can warn each other of threats, greet other birds, or even taunt them.
Researchers have discovered over 20 different sounds of the raven. They are sometimes referred to as the Einstein Birds, as few birds can match their brilliance.
The call of a crow sounds more like a “caw-caw,” along with clicks and rattles. The familiar sound of a raven is a deep croak or “gronk-gronk” sound.
The raven has more of a soar in the air and do somersaults, and even go upside down in flight. They also move around a lot by walking on the ground, whereas the crow does not move this way as much.
Many crows are solitary but will often forage in groups. When a member of a murder dies, the murder will surround the dead bird in what is almost like a funeral.
Crows will gather to figure out what killed their member, and then they will chase predators in a curious behavior called mobbing.
Lifespan of A Raven Vs Crow
For both birds, life span depends on living conditions. Wild ravens usually live from 6-10 years, but they have a mortality rate of about 50 percent. Birds in captivity will obviously live much longer. One bird living in New York lived for 59 years.
American crows have a life expectancy of around 7-8 years in the wild but have been known to live 30 years in captivity. Some crow species live in groups of yearlings, and non-mating adults called a roosting community.
Habitats Of A Raven Vs Crow
Crows are more commonly found in populated urban areas than ravens, and they are tied to the presence of humans.
Both birds can be found in various habitats, but they prefer open and partially open areas. You can find them both in agricultural fields, forests along the edge of a stream, or savannas.
They both tend to avoid thick forests, as they are more vulnerable to predators. It is uncommon to see them in the same area.
Ravens like to roost on cliff ledges or large trees, but well-established nests have been found on billboards and powerlines. The nests are a cup shape and predominately made of sticks.
Crows also prefer open areas like grasslands and agricultural land. But they seem to thrive in suburban neighborhoods.
Both crows and ravens are found throughout Europe and the Americas and sometimes as far south as Nicaragua. They are also seen in western Asia.
Mating Habits Of A Raven Vs Crow
Female ravens usually lay between 3-7 eggs and sit on them for almost three weeks. Both the male and the female raven will watch over their young. Babies leave the nest between 5 to 7 weeks of age and reach sexual maturity at three years of age.
Crows are pretty eager breeders, and they will often stay close to where they were born to help raise the area’s other young chicks. A mating pair of crows will build a nest up to 60 feet above the ground, using twine, hair, twigs, bark, and moss. The nests are usually 1-2 feet in diameter.
Female crows lay between four to five eggs, and they also incubate for over two weeks. Chicks leave the nest at four weeks, and parents stay to feed them until they are about two months old. Crows can live up to 14 years and longer in captivity.
Diet Of A Raven Vs Crow
Ravens feed in open areas and usually hunt their food as a group. They are primarily scavengers and eat everything from small mammals to reptiles and other birds. They are not picky eaters and will eat human trash and even mammal dung.
Crows are meat eaters and will happily dine on rodents, frogs, and worms and eat nuts and fruits. They are also active scavengers and can be found digging through the garbage. Crows in captivity usually eat a mixture of meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Predators of A Raven Vs Crow
Both ravens and crows have some predators-hawks, eagles, and owls. But humans are the main predator of these birds.
Ravens at the Tower of London – Interesting Facts of A Raven Vs Crow
Something I find interesting is that there is a group of ravens that live at the Tower of London and are known as the Tower’s guardians.
Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, it will fall. Today, seven ravens live at the tower-the six required and one extra.
Charles II brought the ravens to the Tower to be protected after he was warned that both the Tower and his crown would fall if they ever left.
So, if you are planning to get a pet raven, go through out article “Can you have a pet raven?”
Random Facts About Ravens and Crows
I’ve listed some fascinating facts about both ravens and crows that are worth knowing because they are so neat, even though there is a difference between raven and crow.
- Ravens are extremely smart and can be taught to speak like a parrot. In the past, they were viewed as sinister and often appeared in mythological stories. The raven is very playful, and it also shows compassion towards its flock mates.
- If a crow dies, often the siblings in the family will help to care for the young. In the 1990s, the population of crows in Japan increased so much that it caused blackouts.
- In proportion, the brain of a crow is bigger than the brain of a human.
- Crows can recognize your face and may even hold a grudge if their first impression of you wasn’t favorable. Crows will go after preditors in groups.
Ravens and crows both look similar but have differences in their size, behavior, feathers and sound. One is bigger whereas the other is smarter.
Next time when you see these black beaked bird, find the differences by looking at their size, appearance, behavior and sound.
Enjoy their presence and happy birding!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a raven and a crow the same thing?
Ravens are bigger as compared to crows. They also have long and curvier beak compared to crows. Ravens have shaggier throat feathers. You can distinguish a raven and a crow by listening to their calls. Crows have a caw, caw sound whereas ravens have a deep croaking call.
Which is smarter, a crow or a raven?
Both a crow and a raven are smart but ravens are a bit more smart as compared to crows. Ravens have 7 different calls and use stunt flying to attract their mates.