Common raven

Corvus corax

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    They live in forested and mountainous areas and build their nests high on cliff edges or in trees. In some parts of their range, common ravens can be found in urban areas, where they will build nests on structures like telephone poles or billboards.

  • Range

    Common ravens can be found in North America in much of Canada and the western United States. In the Chesapeake region, they are found mainly in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but can also be found in western Maryland and Virginia.

  • Diet

    Small animals, seeds and insects

  • Lifespan

    13 years

  • Status

    Stable

The common raven is an entirely black bird about the size of a hawk. It can be found in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as western Maryland and Virginia.

Appearance

Common ravens are large, entirely black birds with shaggy throat feathers. They are about the size of hawks, growing to between 22 and 27 inches in length with a four-and-a-half-foot wingspan. Often confused with the American crow, the common raven is about one-third larger and has elongated and pointy throat feathers. In flight, it has a wedged-shaped tail. Males and females looks alike, although males are slightly larger.

Feeding

Common ravens are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and animals, although they mostly eat animals. They are also scavengers, and will feed on carcasses of dead animals. If they are unsure if something is edible, they will wait to see if another bird eats it and survives.

Predators

There are few predators for common ravens, but coyotes, large hawks, eagles, owls, martens and other ravens may attack nestlings. Adults are good at defending their young and will chase predators away.

Flight

Common ravens are known to glide or soar, which they do more often than American crows. They are also acrobatic flyers, and will do rolls or somersaults in the air.

Voice

Common ravens are vocal animals, and have over 20 types of vocalizations for different situations. They have calls for alarm, comfort, chasing, fighting and advertising territories.

Pamela C. Rasmussen/Avian Vocalizations Center

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Common ravens breed and lay eggs between mid-February and late May, with most clutches starting between March and April. Ravens lay between three and seven eggs. After hatching, both parents take care of young, which will stay in the nest for five to seven weeks. Ravens reach maturity at three years of age, and can live to be 13 years old in the wild.

Did You Know?

  • The common raven is the largest type of songbird.
  • Common ravens are extremely intelligent: they will hide surplus food and birds in captivity can recognize their handlers.
  • The oldest known common raven lived to be 80 in captivity.
  • Young ravens play games with sticks by repeatedly dropping them and diving to catch them in midair.
  • By the 20th century, ravens had disappeared from much of the east and Midwest. In recent years, they have expanded their range in the northeast and returned to once-occupied areas.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    They live in forested and mountainous areas and build their nests high on cliff edges or in trees. In some parts of their range, common ravens can be found in urban areas, where they will build nests on structures like telephone poles or billboards.

  • Range

    Common ravens can be found in North America in much of Canada and the western United States. In the Chesapeake region, they are found mainly in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but can also be found in western Maryland and Virginia.

  • Diet

    Small animals, seeds and insects

  • Lifespan

    13 years

  • Status

    Stable