The Difference Between Crows & Ravens
Crow VS Raven
Corvus brachyrhynchos – commonly known as the American Crow
Crows average around 17 inches long and ravens about 24-27.
A raven weighs about four times that of a crow.
Crows have a wingspan around 21/2 feet and while ravens are about 31/2 – 4 feet.
A raven’s wing sometimes makes a prominent “swish, swish” sound, while a crow’s wingbeat is usually silent.
Ravens have pointed wings, while crows have a more blunt and splayed wingtip.
Crows have a fan-shaped tail (squared-off), while raven tails are long and wedge-shaped.
Besides having a bigger, more powerful bill, a raven’s bill is curved, while a crow has a more-or-less flat pointed bill. Additionally, atop a raven’s bill is a tuft of hairs absent on crows.
A crow call is a “caw” and a raven is a low and slow croak.
Crows exhibit at least two dozen different calls, while ravens can express themselves with more than 100 different vocalizations, depending on the expert cited, and are known to mimic other sounds.
Ravens are acrobatic flyers and have been seen rolling, looping, and even flying upside down.
Raven’s nest is generally between 2′ and 4′ in diameter.
Ravens and crows are often seen in flight, and you can learn to separate then as well. Ravens have longer, thinner wings than crows and a wedge-shaped tail. The central tail feathers are longer than the outer tail feathers in ravens; all tail feathers are about the same length in crows. Another clue is that ravens love to soar – flying high without flapping their wings – but crows do not.
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. Crows, on the other hand, are more likely to live near buildings and will venture farther into human developments to compete for food.
American Crows congregate in large numbers in winter to sleep in communal roosts. These roosts can be of a few hundred, several thousand, or even up to two million crows. Some roosts have been forming in the same general area for well over 100 years. In the last few decades, some of these roosts have moved into urban areas where the noise and mess cause conflicts with people.
Young American Crows do not breed until they are at least two years old, and most do not breed until they are four or more. In most, but not all, populations the young stay with their parents and help them raise young in subsequent years. Families may include up to 15 individuals and contain young from five different years.
The American Crow appears to be the biggest victim of the West Nile virus, a disease recently introduced to North America. Crows die within one week of infection, and few seem able to survive exposure. No other North American bird is dying at the same rate from the disease, and the loss of crows in some areas has been severe.
In some areas, the American Crow has a double life. It maintains a territory year-round in which all members of its extended family live and forage together. But during much of the year, individual crows leave the home territory periodically. They join large flocks foraging at dumps and agricultural fields and sleep in large roosts in winter. Family members go together to the flocks, but do not stay together in the crowd. A crow may spend part of the day at home with its family in town and the rest with a flock feeding on waste grain out in the country.
Despite being a common exploiter of roadkill, the American Crow is not specialized to be a scavenger, and carrion is only a very small part of its diet. Its stout bill is not strong enough to break through the skin of even a gray squirrel. It must wait for something else to open a carcass or for the carcass to decompose and become tender enough to eat.
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