Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Difference Between Crows and Ravens

I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time, mostly because of my fondness for crows and ravens. Not only are they beautiful, but they are very intelligent as you will discover from this blog. What is the difference between Crows and Ravens?

Many people use the terms 'raven' and 'crow' interchangeably, but they are actually quite different. Technically, since ravens belong to the crow (corvus) family of birds, they can be called crows - but not all crows are ravens. The two differ in a variety of ways.

Size First. Most noticeably, ravens are larger than crows. They are (on average) about the size of a hawk, where crows are approximately the size of a pigeon. A raven can be up to 64 cm in height, a crow’s height ranges up to 46 cm.

Call. If you're familiar with the call which crows make, you'd probably recognize the raven's call as being different. Crows have a more nasal, higher pitched call, where a raven's call is lower, and hoarser... almost a croaking sound. And if you have listened to the cries of both the birds, you will know that a crow’s sound is more irritating than that of ravens. A raven has the capability to imitate certain sounds as well.  If you want to hear the difference for yourself, click here for a raven's call and crow's call.

Tail feathers

Crows have a very fan-shaped tail, where raven's tails have more of a wedge-shape to them. This isn't very easy to tell if the bird is sitting on the ground, but when flying overhead, you can often get a good look at the shape of the tail.

Feather shape

Ravens' feathers are also a slightly different shape than crows' feathers. Crow feathers tend to be more rounded at the tip, while ravens have feathers which are slightly pointed. This is most noticeable on the breast feathers, especially when the bird fluffs itself up. The feathers on the crow's breast lie comfortably against each other and provide a nice, even, rounded covering. The feathers on a raven lie a little more jaggedly, and when a raven fluffs up, its breast tends to look ragged. In fact, when a raven really fluffs up and all its feathers look like they're standing on end, the raven appears to have a short fluffy mane (called a 'ruff'). Raven’s feathers are shiny and have a tint of purple when the sun rays fall on it. But crows have plain black feathers which can also have lighter markings on them.


Ravens and crows can often be found living side by side in the same areas, but where there's a choice, Ravens prefer wilder areas while crows will live quite close to cities. The bigger the city, the less likely ravens will make it their home -- and when they do, they tend to live in or near parks and natural spaces. You can find crows in your garden, neighboring places, electric lines, and even in highly bustling places. But ravens cannot be found like that. They like solitude and privacy and hence are found in the woods and hills where human population is less or nil. Crows, on the other hand, are more likely to live near buildings, and will venture farther into human developments to compete for food.

There are more differences between crows and ravens, including their social habits and life span While a crow lives up to 8 years, a raven can live up to 30 years.

Food Habits

The food habits of ravens and crows also are different. When crows scavenge for fruits, vegetables, and other foods in groups, ravens hunt solitarily. So crows are never the friends of a farmer as it destroys the crops. That's why many farmers and gardeners put up the well known 'scarecrow' in there fields.Though both birds are omnivorous and scavenge on carrion, ravens feed more on the carrions, especially sheep.


Though parrots are very smart, they aren’t the only birds with brains. Members of the corvid family – jays, crows and ravens – are extremely smart too.

Corvids can remember, analyze, innovate and problem solve. They even use tools. In every case, ravens shine. They are one of the most intelligent birds on earth, persistent and innovative in solving problems and known to outwit other critters, a feat which earned them human tributes as tricksters and gods. Ravens even play.

The Common Raven is an acrobatic flier, often doing rolls and somersaults in the air. One bird was seen flying upside down for more than a half-mile. Young birds are fond of playing games with sticks, repeatedly dropping them, then diving to catch them in midair.

There are more differences between crows and ravens, but these are the key points. They should help you determine whether the bird you're looking at is a raven or just a very large crow.

In Summary

1. Crows and ravens differ in the size and ravens are bigger.

2. Ravens have a purple shiny tint on the feathers when sunrays fall on them, while crows have plain dark feathers.

3. The life spans of crows are very less compared to that of ravens.

4. Crows scavenge in groups while ravens hunt in solitude.

5. Crows can be found among the dwellings of humans, but ravens prefer to stay away in the hills and woods.

I want to do another blog at some future time, to share with you more information on how smart Crows and Ravens really are. It is truly amazing. Until then......

This is Raven-as the crow flies!


  1. Very impressive! I really enjoyed this blog. Even us folks at B & B learned something. You are becoming techno savvy too!

  2. Thanks Sparrow, I'm glad you liked this blog. Thanks to you, and this "frabjous" hobby of blogging, I'm learning things I never knew before.

  3. Crows scavenge in groups while ravens hunt in solitude. - You might want to revise this, it's not accurate.