Is a raven a crow?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

Is a Raven a Crow?

A raven is not a crow. While both birds belong to the same family, Corvidae, and share some similar characteristics, they have distinct differences in appearance, size, and behavior.

1. Appearance:
Ravens and crows can be easily distinguished by their appearance. Ravens are much larger than crows, with a wingspan of 3.5-4 feet and a length of around 24-27 inches from head to tail. In contrast, crows are smaller, approximately the size of pigeons. One noticeable difference is their bill size. Ravens have a larger and heavier bill compared to the slender bill of crows. This difference in bill size reflects their varied feeding habits and preferences.

2. Tail Shape:
Another distinguishing feature between ravens and crows is their tail shape. Ravens have wedge-shaped or diamond-shaped tails, whereas crows have fan-shaped tails. This difference in tail shape can be observed during flight and is helpful in identifying the bird from a distance.

3. Flight Pattern:
Ravens and crows also differ in their flight pattern. Ravens are known for their soaring flight, often gliding for long distances with their wings fully extended. On the other hand, crows have a more direct and flapping flight style. The difference in flight pattern can be attributed to their different ecological roles and habitats.

4. Size:
Size is perhaps the most notable difference between ravens and crows. Ravens are among the largest songbirds and are comparable in size to Red-tailed Hawks. In contrast, crows are smaller and more similar in size to pigeons. This size difference is evident when comparing the two species side by side and is a key factor in distinguishing between them.

5. Coloration:
Both ravens and crows are primarily black in color. However, ravens often appear to have a glossy or iridescent sheen to their feathers, which can be observed in certain lighting conditions. Crows, on the other hand, have a slightly duller appearance. While coloration alone may not be sufficient to differentiate between the two species, it can be used as an additional characteristic when considering other distinguishing features.

While ravens and crows share some similarities due to their close evolutionary relationship, they can be easily differentiated based on their larger bill, tail shape, flight pattern, and size. Ravens are significantly larger than crows, have a different tail shape, and exhibit a different flight style. These differences, along with their distinct appearances, help to distinguish between the two species.