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Monday, March 28, 2011

How can I tell a raven from a crow?


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: crow raven

Why: Yesterday, a giant black bird bigger than Maddie came and sat by the edge of the pool. We thought it might try to snatch up Chloe and carry her away. I have heard people call those huge birds both crows and ravens, but I'm pretty sure they are 2 different animals.

Answer: Here's a secret: the raven is a type of crow! It is in the genus corvus, anyway, and that word kind of sounds like "crow," and the birds in that genus are all small and mostly black... but corvus actually means "raven" in Latin, so make of that what you will. So there are "true crows" like the American Crow, and then there are ravens like the Common Raven. Distinguishing features!
Crow
  • Smaller - about the size of a pigeon
  • Call is higher pitched and more nasal, like this
  • Tail is fan-shaped
  • Fly with deliberate flapping wingbeats
  • Tend to live near cities, buildings, and human developments
Raven
  • Bigger - about the size of a hawk
  • Call is lower pitched and hoarse, kind of croaky, like this
  • Tail is wedge-shaped
  • Alternates between flapping and soaring like a hawk
  • Prefer to live in wilder areas - or near parks or open spaces
Source: Shades of Night, Bird Guide

The More You Know: Nevermore!

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