Crows Vs Ravens | What are the differences, How to identify them?

Very Easily, Crows are one of the very frequently spotted flying birds in the sky. Wait, Are they crow for sure? Many people make mistake crows for ravens in common. Their similarities and shape make it difficult for them to be differentiated when in the skies.  

It’s quite a common scene for people to spot two crows sitting perched on a tree – except, they are probably ravens and not crows. True, Ravens mostly fly or rest as a pair, while crows prefer flying in groups. Coming from the same family, they get overlapped very often. 

Crows, being a very sociable species, are often seen among people-flooded areas. One might find difficulty in correctly differentiating between a crow and a raven flying in the sky. Yet, when in close – with a little practice and information, you can easily differentiate the two. There aren’t a very high number of differences, as all birds belonging to the Corvidae family have many similarities too. Yet, keynotes can always help you classify a raven from a crow. 

Related Read: Are Crows Intelligent | How Smart are Crows and Ravens?

The Corvidae family includes a variety of birds – Ravens, Crows, Jays, jackdaws, magpies and treepies, nutcrackers, etc., So, How do we know which is which? 

Main differences between crows and ravens:

Crows and ravens are famous for their ingenious ways of hunting food and surviving in urbanized environments. These two North American blackbirds belong to the same  Corvidae family and look similar but several distinctive traits like their behavior, physical characteristics, and habitat clearly distinguish them from one another.

The most important differentiating factors between Crows and Ravens:

Size (identification)

An important identification factor is ravens are noticeably larger than adult crows and range in a size closer to a red-tailed hawk. The crows are a little bigger than a standard pigeon. Crows have shiny feathers whereas ravens look beefier, and humans can identify them without binoculars even from a long distance.

Related Read: Do crows eat pigeon eggs? | Why do crows attack pigeons?

Vocal sounds and calls

Crows’ sounds are high pitched and raspy, but ravens have deeper guttural calls that sound and resonate more hollow. The crows mostly ‘caw’ while the ravens ‘croak’. 

Social behavior

Crows are social birds, root and forage in large flocks. Ravens are quieter, less social, and introverted birds, and pair off with their mates. Ravens are often seen closely perched in trees of parks. 

Habitat

Both crows and ravens are suspicious of humans. Ravens are quiet and reclusive birds, prefer solitary wilderness habitats, and live in wide-open landscapes that don’t have much human involvement. Crows are more adaptable birds and thrive well in urban areas among humans. Ravens are pickier in nesting and raising their families than crows. 

While these are very commonly mentioned important factors for their classification, there is still a lot to be known about these two species of the Corvidae family. These cosmopolitan species can be found spread across various parts of the world and can have adapted characteristics based on the locations they thrive. Their food source and social behavior can vary from place to place.  

Comparison chart between crows and ravens:

Both crows and ravens are incredibly intelligent birds and were extremely helpful messengers during war times in ancient times. Compared to songbirds, crows and ravens have substantial territory and make confusing or muddle vocal repertoire.

Feature Crows Ravens
Beak Slim, flat, and straight. No tuft of hair present on the top of the bill.Larger with a perfect shape and curved. There will be a tuft of air atop the bill.
Feather Less shiny with small markingsMore shiny and wet sheen
Rictal and neck feathersMay be presentMore whiskey than crows
Wings shape Primary feathers are short. Looks blunt and splayed, wingspan from 32 to 40 inches. Primary feathers will be lengthy and pointed, wingspan from 46 inches to 54 inches
Wings color in sunlightPurple with green-tinted colored wings.Shiny with a purple-tint or blue
Size Smaller than the size of a pigeon. 16-21 inches tall and weigh around 20 ozLarger size equal to Red-tailed Hawks. 24-27 inches tall and weigh around 40 oz(double the weight of a crow)
Tail shapeFan-shaped tails with almost all the feathers are the same length.Wedge-shaped tail, the middle feathers in the tail are longer.
Environment Adaptable to all the habitats including cities and suburbsLike to nest in a remote, wild and quiet environment.
Social behaviorSocial and audacious, interact with humansLess social and more cautious
Diet Omnivorous scavengers and mostly scavengeOmnivorous scavengers and hunt small animals
Vocal and soundsHigh pitch and loud callA low and hoarse sound
Flight styleflapsSoars more
Life span Around 8 years Around 30 years

Ravens have varied vocabulary including gurglings, sharp metallic “tok” sounds, and guttural croaks. Studies have proven that ravens are capable of collecting valuable items, and later they can be used as tools or as goods for barter. Ravens also can plan for the future with these things. Most ravens build their nest on the top of a large tree or a cliff, and young ones remain in the nest for a month from birth.

Crows have a habit of collecting shiny accessories and later they use them for trade. According to bird psychology, birds get affected by the sound of shiny things, and reflection of the things makes their vision blur.

Do crows and ravens get along?

No, they might come from the same Corvidae family, but they don’t get along in nature. The crows have a habit of flocking together to mob a raven, whenever it enters their territory.

In overlapping territories, they tolerate each other mostly but occasional battles and conflicts happen between them. Conflicts happen during mainly the nesting season when invaders and predators come near to a nest. 

Both the species seldom cross each other’s paths and territories mainly because both have different habitats and behaviors. In situations where they are on the lookout for food including hunting small invertebrates, eating decayed bodies, or other birds’ eggs as their meals may put them face-off.

If a raven ventures into the crow’s territory, crows become aggressive and respond with chasing, mobbing, and vocalizing to drive ravens away from their nest, assuming them to be predators to their young ones.

Who is smarter: crows or ravens?

Ravens are much smarter than crows. Compared to crows, ravens solve intelligence-based problems with ease and have great communication skills. But crows have good memory power, and easily identify humans’ facial features and decide whom to trust and whom to not.

Some researches prove that ravens and crows may collect shiny objects and even mimic human words like parrots. Studies demonstrated that they can count numbers and also hold enmity against people who hurt or attacked them.

Crows and ravens are sharp-witted birds and show very subtle differences in how their intelligence manifests. Their problem solving and communication skills help them to thrive in all environments. Both species are well versed in trading and bartering.

Sources prove and show that their puzzle-solving methods and tool-inventing techniques almost match or exceed the intelligence of a chimpanzee.

Bigger in size: Crows or Ravens? 

Ravens are heavy-billed dark birds, significantly larger and powerful than small and flat in size crows. Ravens have shaggy plumage feathers around the neck, unlike crows. 

The most important identification feature is their overall size, and have prominently different tails seen while they fly.

Crows grow up to an approximate length of 16 to 21 inches while ravens grow up to 21 inches to 26 inches. Crows can weigh around 20 ounces while ravens weigh around 40 ounces – almost double the weight of a crow.

An adult crow has a wingspan ranging from 2 feet to 3 feet, while ravens have a wing-span range from 3 to 4 feet wide with a powerful and bigger bill.

A Tail silhouette can help to identify the blackbird flying in the sky. Crows’ tail feathers are of the same length and have fan-shaped edges. Ravens’ tail feathers resemble a diamond. In other words, they look like wedge-shaped tails with longer middle feathers.

Both crows and ravens have rictal bristles or whiskery feathers around the beak, but ravens’ cover half of their bill.

Who is more friendly to humans: crows or ravens?

Both ravens and crows are less friendlier to humans. Both blackbirds are associated with death and war, humans never prefer to raise them as pets since they consider the species as a bad omen and inconspicuous factor. 

Some crows have the habit of mobbing and attacking children or infants who play outside.

Ravens and crows are mostly suspicious of humans. Most of the Corvus birds never get too close to humans. For them, food is the main target. They prefer bonding friendly with humans in case they sense the potential for them to be fed their required food in regular intervals of time.

Related Read: Which birds eat mealworms? | How do birds find worms?

Both are scavengers and eat anything they find. Birds in urban cities have adapted themselves to even eat trashed items as their meal. They never wait for their prey to show up, they keep hunting anytime and anywhere within their territory. Ravens like to hunt and thrive on small mammals, birds, human garbage, small invertebrates. Crows thrive on fruits, nuts, grains, seeds, frogs, mice, rats, and carrion.

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