Crows and ravens are often mixed up because they look similar and share some words to describe them. But when you really study them, you see they’re not the same at all. Even from far away, you can spot differences in how they act and parts of their bodies. Plus, they live in different places and have their own meanings in myths.
They’re actually two different types of birds in the Corvus group, which makes them both corvids. Even though you can compare all crows and ravens, we’ll mostly talk about the common raven and the American crow to keep things simple. So, let’s look closely at how ravens and crows are different!
Ravens vs. Crows Differences
Size & Weight:
Ravens and crows may look similar, but they have differences in their size and weight. Ravens are larger, measuring about 24-27 inches from head to tail feathers, while crows are smaller, at around 17 inches. Ravens also weigh more, ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 pounds, while crows weigh between 3/4 to 1.5 pounds.
Crows have round heads, while ravens have triangular-shaped heads.
Their beaks are another way to tell them apart. Crows have pointed beaks, whereas ravens have thicker, more curved beaks.
One of the most noticeable differences is in their tails. Crows have wedge-shaped tails, while ravens have more curved feathers that create a fan-like shape when open.
Ravens have highly glossy plumage with iridescent greens, blues, and purples, often appearing oily and colorful. Crows also have some color-changing feathers, but not as much shine. Ravens have fluffier feathers, especially around their heads.
Both crows and ravens are scavengers and can eat dead animals or be carnivores when needed. While they share similar diets, there are differences in their behaviors.
Also Read: Grackles vs. Starlings
Crows prefer to travel in groups, while ravens often travel in pairs. They don’t usually hang out together and, surprisingly, crows tend to attack and chase ravens about 97% of the time, even though ravens are larger.
Cooperative breeding involves parents and offspring helping to raise other young, including siblings and non-related offspring. Crows engage in cooperative breeding, but ravens do not.
Ravens and crows have different flying styles. Ravens soar gracefully in the sky, while crows have a more straightforward flight.
On the ground, crows walk around in a way that may seem human-like, not hopping or flapping their wings like most birds. Ravens, on the other hand, use a combination of hopping and walking to move quickly and avoid obstacles.
Crows have a distinctive cawing sound for communication and warnings. Ravens can also caw, but their most common call is a throatier and deeper “croaking” noise. Ravens use this croaking sound to attract mates and establish dominance over other ravens. Crows are known to have an extensive vocabulary, with at least 250 words, and some can even mimic human words like “hello.”
Also Read: Hawks Vs Falcons
Both crows and ravens are intelligent birds, but ravens are considered smarter. Ravens are exceptional problem solvers and have been known to create tools to help them solve tasks. In fact, ravens are often regarded as the smartest birds on Earth. They plan for tasks in advance, similar to how humans do. Crows are also intelligent and adaptable to new environments. They have excellent memory and can remember human faces, recognizing individuals and approaching them differently based on their past interactions.
Ravens typically do not migrate and prefer to stay in their year-round habitat. In contrast, crows engage in partial migration. Some crows migrate, while others remain in their home areas.
Crows prefer open areas for habitat, while ravens are more inclined to live in forests and wooded regions.
Both crows and ravens belong to the Corvus genus but are different avian species. Ravens themselves have various species, such as the Common Raven, Forest Raven, Chatham Raven, and Chihuahuan Raven. In contrast, crows belong to different avian species like the American Crow, Common Crow, Rook, and Western Jackdaw, all distinct from ravens.
The geographical ranges of American crows and common ravens differ. American crows inhabit the entire contiguous United States and most of Canada. Some migrate north to Canada for breeding, while others stay in the U.S., with migratory individuals returning south in the fall. Ravens have a year-round range encompassing Canada and the western half of the United States, including parts of Canada, Mexico, and a few New England states.
Final Thoughts on Ravens vs. Crows
, crows and ravens may both be large black birds, but they have many differences. They vary in size, intelligence, feathers, sounds, behaviors, genetic relations, and how they move. Remember these distinctions, such as their behavior, movements, and size, to help you identify whether you’re looking at a crow or a raven when you encounter a large black bird.
Also Read: English Budgies Vs. American Budgies
FAQs – Raven vs. Crow
Are crows and ravens the same?
No, crows and ravens are not the same. While they may appear similar at a glance, closer examination reveals several differences that set them apart, despite both belonging to the same family.
What is the difference between a raven and a crow?
Ravens have larger bills, and wedge-shaped tails, are larger in size, and can be as big as Red-tailed Hawks. Crows, on the other hand, have smaller bills, and fan-shaped tails, and are approximately the size of pigeons.
Which is more aggressive, a crow or a raven?
Crows tend to be more aggressive than ravens. While ravens are territorial, they rarely display outward aggression. Crows are often observed mobbing other animals, including birds, and can sometimes cause significant harm.
Is a raven bigger than a crow?
Yes, ravens are generally larger than crows. Most ravens are larger than crows, often by a significant margin. The smallest ravens are roughly the same size as the largest crows.
Are crows afraid of ravens?
No, crows are not typically afraid of ravens. It’s common to see crows hassling or attacking ravens, which is not unusual for birds belonging to the same genus. While ravens can avoid crows if they’re at risk of injury, they often don’t pay much attention to this mobbing behavior. Ravens are seldom aggressive toward crows.