Common Raven (Photo: DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Common Raven

This large all-black relative for the American crow can soar like an eagle, swoop and dive like a falcon, and is adaptable enough to thrive anywhere. In flight it is the wedge-shaped tail that best separates this species from the American crow (which has a normal fan-shaped tail). They are also separated from crows by their large size and massive bill. They are 24 inches in length.

 Listen For

Hoarse, croaking calls (kraak, kraak!), unique to ravens, carry a great distance and are often your first clue to the bird’s presence. They also make a variety of other calls, including rattles, gurgles, and toots.

 Find It

The common raven is one of the most widespread birds in the world, being found on virtually every continent. In North America they are found across most of Canada and the western United States, but in the East they are generally limited to the higher mountains (above 3000 feet in elevation).

Ravens are, like most members of the family, highly adaptable, and can be found in habitats ranging from deserts to forests to boreal bogs. They do not mind being around human environments, rural farms where food might be available to steal.

Feeding Behavior

They eat almost anything, including small animals and birds, eggs, road kill, fruits, insects, amphibians and reptiles, and garbage.

Nesting Behavior

The nest is most often in a tree but in some areas they favor rock ledges. Although the males will provide the sticks for the nest, the females are the primary builders. The outer wall is with longer, sturdier sticks while the inner cup is lined with smaller sticks and leaves. The birds usually take 9 days to build their nest and it can be reused for multiple years, although not always by the same bird.


Common ravens have always fascinated humans. Native Americans believe the raven symbolizes death, wisdom, trickery, or evil.

Hear the common raven:

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