Difference Between Crow and Raven

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023

       

Difference Between Crow and Raven

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Introduction

Crows and Ravens are often confused with each other, as they are incredibly similar in appearance. Both belong to the same family and are completely black. Many myths about these birds are still circulating, but one thing is evident – they are highly intelligent birds. They can recognize and identify human faces.

Crows are considered harbingers of bad luck, doom, and death, while some merely consider them clever tricksters. Crows are sociable birds even though they have a habit of stealing food from humans. It is easy to befriend a crow; offering it food helps a lot. When people consistently offer it food and tidbits, the crow arrives on time every day and calls out for food if people forget to keep some food aside for it.

Ravens are intriguing birds, as many stories depict them as representations of prophecies. According to Greek mythology, ravens were white; they turned black when the Greek God Apollo scorched a raven in his fury. However, modern-day ravens are only known for their cleverness and resourcefulness (they are the symbol of Ravenclaw house in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter!). Ravens are not as nefarious as depicted in literature and films. Some young ravens are extremely playful and have been observed to slide down snow banks just for the fun (wonder what will they do if someone or something else joins them?).

Crow Vs. Raven

Ravens are larger than crows, and they emit a deep croaking sound, whereas crows are small and produce a cawing sound. Moreover, crows have a fan-like tails, while a raven’s tail is wedge-shaped.

Difference Between Crow And Raven In Tabular Form

Parameters Of Comparison Crows Ravens
Size Though a crow and a raven are both completely black in color, the former is slightly smaller than the latter. Common ravens are the largest passerine birds.
Appearance Due to the even length of their tail feathers, crows have fan-shaped tails. They are less shaggy, and their beaks are lighter than a raven’s. Ravens have fluffier/shaggier feathers at the head and near their throats. In addition to their wedge-shaped tail, they have curvier beaks than crows.
Sound Emission A crow’s cawing sound can be incredibly annoying. However, some find it bearable after getting used to it or becoming friends with the crow. The croaking sound ravens emit is blood-curdling at times. Everyone who watched the film The Omen II knows this (some never recovered after watching it).
Flying Pattern Crows have to flap their wings frequently and cannot fly very high. Ravens soar high and fly in perfect loops. They are also adept at executing other aerobatic maneuvers.
Location Crows are more abundant than ravens in the Eastern United States. Common ravens are more commonly seen in Eurasia.
Walking Style Crows ‘walk’ by moving one foot in front of the other, while on the ground. Ravens use a combination of walking and hopping to navigate when on the ground. They are well known for their peculiar two-foot hop.
Traveling Style Crows travel in large groups except before the breeding season. Ravens usually travel in pairs. Some interlock their talons with each other during the flight.

What Is A Crow?

Crows are large birds with shiny black plumage; they are best known for the distinct cawing sound they make. Farmers use scarecrows to ward off crows, as these birds are prone to eat their crops (corn and grains). Crows hunt, forage, and defend their territories together. Curious by nature, these birds cause mischief, pull pranks, and are highly skilled thieves. Though it is not clear whether crows are gossipy, it is clear they hold grudges (a splendid scene of a group of crows attacking a boy who provoked them was shown in the popular TV series 9-1-1). Therefore, it is wise to be cautious around crows.

Types Of Crows

Almost all crows look the same; however, many different types of crows are found in various parts of the world. Some of the interesting types are as follows:

Pied Crows

Pied crows are more like small-sized ravens in appearance. However, their behavior resembles a Eurasian Carrion Crow’s. It has white plumage from its shoulders to the lower breast. The white feathers of young ones are often mixed with black. These species are abundant in Nigeria, Ghana, the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar Island, and so on.

Little Crows

Little crows are Australian species of crows and have white irises. Similar to an Australian raven, a blue ring surrounds the pupil of these birds. They haunt dry, desert-like areas and frequently visit country towns.

American Crows

These crows are renowned for their iridescent feathers. American crows are common, widespread bioindicators. Wild birds have a lifespan of seven to eight years, whereas birds in captivity can live up to thirty years. This species is cunning and inquisitive in nature.

Hooded Crows

Hooded crows have an ash-gray mid-body, while the rest of their body parts are black. They have dark brown irises. Hooded crows generally fly slowly. Hooded crows are found in Northern and Eastern Europe. They steal eggs from other birds such as gulls and cormorants. These birds drop crabs from a high perch to break open their shell and eat them.

Carrion Crows

The feathers of carrion crows have a green or purple sheen. They are passerine birds (perching birds) that caw three or four times in quick succession. Generally, carrion crows raise their shoulders or bow their neck while cawing. This species can be tamed; however, they are known to engage in mobbing behavior (coordinated group attack) if they feel threatened.

White-Necked Crows

Measuring 17-18 inches in length, white-necked crows are the largest of the four Caribbean Corvids. They can be seen only on the island of Hispaniola. White-necked crows have an unusually pleasant sounding voice that resembles a parrot’s. They can emit both sweet and harsh-sounding notes. These crows mostly inhabit lowlands and mountain forests.

Cuban Crows

A Cuban crow is one of the four Caribbean crows and is commonly seen in large islands of Cuba. Crows belonging to this species have adapted to living in close contact with human settlements. Their voices resemble liquid bubbling sounds, and their plumage has a bluish-purple tinge.

Torresian Crows

Torresian crows have white neck feathers that are visible when ruffled. They shuffle their wings on alighting (so, dogs are not the only ones who have this weird way of shaking out their fur?). The young ones have entirely blue irises, which become white ringed with blue, as they age. Torresian crows inhabit any place with a permanent source of water. Their voices slightly resemble a cat’s meow.

Palm Crow

Palm crows mostly inhabit mountain pine forests. The locals of the Dominican Republic call it Cao. The two subspecies of these crows are the Hispaniolan Palm Crow and the Cuban Palm Crow.

House Crows

Predominantly found in southern Asia, these crows are an invasive species. They were added to the list of invasive alien species of Union concern (birds that are accidentally or deliberately introduced in places they did not inhabit before and cause biodiversity loss), in 2016. They are dependent on humans and are known to thrive where human population explosion takes place.

What Is a Raven?

Ravens are large-bodied passerine birds; the common raven and the thick-billed ravens are the largest perching birds. Ravens are smart, but what is the extent of their intelligence? They are manipulative and cunningly make other animals work for them. Ravens call wolves to the location where they discovered dead animals so that the larger predators can open the carcass for them. Later, the ravens swoop down and gather the scraps left (resourceful, aren’t they?).

Types Of Ravens

Though there are not many types of ravens compared to crows, the subtle differences between the limited types are worth noting. Some of the well-known types of ravens are:

White-Necked Raven

These ravens have shorter tails than common ravens. White-necked ravens have deeper, arched bills that are black except at the tip where it is white. The nape of their necks has a large patch of white. Because of their husky voice, they are described as ravens with sore throats (interesting, as most people joke that a human with a sore throat sounds like a crow, not a raven). They can often be found with other scavengers such as kites or vultures.

Common Raven

Common ravens are completely black and can live up to twenty-three years in the wild. They have co-existed with humans for eons; however, in some areas, their population is so high that they are considered bothersome creatures. Common ravens have a wide range of vocalizations such as alarm, chase, flight calls, and so on. They often travel in mated pairs. Though their relationship may seem quarrelsome at times, these birds are devoted to their families (much like humans!).

Australian Ravens

They prefer open woodlands and have adapted well to cities. Australian ravens are common in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, and Brisbane. These ravens often scavenge on stillborn animals; rarely, they kill lambs, too.  Australian ravens bond for life and are extremely territorial. These ravens hold their bodies in a horizontal position when calling out to other ravens of their species.

Little Raven

The feathers of little ravens have a grey base and are smaller than other types of ravens. They are nomadic and live in smaller trees. Little ravens flick their wings outward when emitting a guttural cry.

Thick-Billed Raven

These ravens have distinctive, large bills that are deeply curved. Thick-billed ravens emit harsh nasal or low wheezy croaks. They have very short feathers on the head, throat, and neck compared to other types of ravens.

Brown-Necked Raven

The head and throat of these birds are brownish-black (hence the name brown-necked raven). The feathers of this species are prone to turn brownish, and the by the time they molt, they appear completely brown. However, the feet, bill, and legs are all black.

Forest Raven

Forest or Tasmanian ravens are omnivorous opportunistic feeders that are fond of roadkill. The Tasmanian people hold them responsible for killing their poultry and for raiding their orchards. Forest ravens have a deep, husky voice and can utter alarm calls. To ward off potential intruders, these birds fly to a high perch, raise their hackles, and emit threatening sounds.

Main Difference Between Crow And Raven In Points

  • Ravens are superior to crows when it comes to flying. They can soar high and fly in loops, whereas crows flap their wings and cannot soar to great heights.
  • Crows are much tamer than ravens. Comparatively speaking, ravens have an eviler glint in their eyes. In fact, Australian ravens (rarely) kill lambs, whereas crows have never exhibited such behavior.
  • Crows are intelligent and use their own skills to find innovative ways to accomplish what they want. Ravens are better described as cunning, as they manipulate other predators into helping them.
  • Certain types of crows can produce sweet notes, whereas ravens are better known for their hoarse vocalizations.
  • Crows attack other predators as a group, to steal food from them. On the other hand, ravens find ways to work with other predators to scavenge food.
  • Ravens have longer middle tail feathers, which makes their tail look wedge or diamond-shaped. Crows have even tail feathers; therefore, their tails are fan-shaped.
  • House crows were listed as invasive species that threaten biodiversity. No type of raven has been listed as such.

Conclusion

Crows and ravens are smart birds worth observing and befriending. Certain types are friendlier than others; knowing when to back off and when to proceed with taming them is the key to forming a successful bond with them. Crows are tricksters and thieves, whereas ravens are resourceful, fun-loving birds (at least when they are not reproaching humans for coming too close to their nests). To be brief, despite the many negative myths and legends about these birds, both can be helpful once befriended (they aid farmers in getting rid of insects that damage their crops).

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crow
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_crow_(bird)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_crow#
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooded_crow#
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrion_crow#
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-necked_crow
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_crow
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torresian_crow
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_crow
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_raven
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_raven
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thick-billed_raven
  • https://www.audubon.org/news/how-tell-raven-crow#
  • https://www.coloradovirtuallibrary.org/resource-sharing/state-pubs-blog/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-a-crow-and-a-raven/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_raven

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"Difference Between Crow and Raven." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 09 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-crow-and-raven-1244>.



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