7 Key Differences Between a Crow and Raven | On The Feeder (2022)

Do you know the difference between a crow and a raven? Many people mistake these two big black birds for one another, but there are some notable differences between them.

This article discusses the 7 key differences between the crow and raven including:

  1. Size & Appearance
  2. Intelligence
  3. Behaviors
  4. Sounds
  5. Relations
  6. Feathers
  7. Movements

I’ve been a backyard birder for more than 20 years. In that time I’ve seen and heard my share of crows and ravens. Would you believe I never bothered to know the difference until I dove into the research for this article? True. I guess I was more obsessed with the cardinals, bluebirds, and chickadees 😉

Still, it’s fascinating to realize just how different these birds really are! Let’s get started …

1. Size and Appearance of a Crow vs Raven

Crows and ravens are both blackbirds, but there are some key differences between them. Crows are typically smaller than ravens, and they have a more triangular-shaped head.

Ravens being larger, measure 24 to 27 inches from head to tail and 3.5 to 4 inches for the wings. On the other hand, crows are 17 inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of 2.5 inches.

Checkout this video showing both birds on the same wire. The quality isn’t the best but it still gives you a great visual.

Crows also weigh half the weight of the raven. Crows weigh about 3/4 – 1.5 pounds, while ravens weigh about 1.5 – 3.5 pounds.

In addition, ravens have a more rounded head shape.

Another way to tell the two apart is by their beaks. Crows have a pointed beak while ravens have a thicker, more curved beak.

When it comes to the difference between ravens and crows, their tails are one of the most noticeable features. Crows have wedge-like shapes, while ravens almost always possess more curved feathers that make up a fan-like shape when open (fanning).

2. Intelligence of A Crow vs Raven

While crows and ravens are both brilliant birds, the raven is considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth.

(Video) Crows, rooks and jackdaws: how to tell the difference

Ravens can make tools and use them to solve problems, which shows just how smart they are. According to Science Magazine, ravens plan for tasks beforehand just like humans do.

Crows also show signs of intelligence in their ability to problem-solve and adapt to new environments, though not as good as the ravens. Crows, however, have a sharp memory and can remember human faces.

Crows can recognize threatening people and still be hostile to them when they meet.They have high social intelligence and know every human is different and needs to be approached differently. Often cautious around new people, crows only approach people they have interacted with before.

3. Behaviors of A Crow vs Raven

Both crows and ravens are scavengers, which means they like to eat dead animals. They can also be carnivores, meaning they will eat live prey if necessary. Other than eating the same kinds of food, there are some differences in their behaviors.

Crows prefer living in open areas, while ravens prefer to live in forests and other wooded areas.

Also, crows travel in groups, while ravens like traveling in pairs.

When it comes to body language, Ravens have the upper hand. They can articulate their elongated throat feathers for various displays that crows couldn’t even dream up!

Ravens are pretty distinguishable. While most songbirds rely on smooth and hair-like features, these feathered warriors prefer something more robust – always knowing exactly how much dramatic flair they need when facing off against a bird or larger animal.

7 Key Differences Between a Crow and Raven | On The Feeder (1)

As for migration, ravens don’t migrate and live in their natural homes. On the other hand, crows partially migrate; some crows take the trip while others prefer to stay home. See the maps below depicting the range in which the American crow and common raven live.

4. Sounds of A Crow vs Raven

7 Key Differences Between a Crow and Raven | On The Feeder (4)

Crows have an even cawing sound they make when communicating with each other or warning other birds about potential danger.

Ravens can also make this same sound, but their most common call is something called a “croaking” noise!.The croaking sound is much throatier and deeper compared to the even cowing sound of the crow. Ravens make this croaking sound when trying to attract a mate or establish dominance over other ravens.


Crows are said to have a vocabulary of at least 250 words. Check out this video of a backyard birder who taught his backyard crow to say “hello”.

5. Relations of A Crow vs Raven

Are crows and ravens related? The answer to this question is yes, but they are not the same. Both birds belong to the same genus, the Corvus genus, but are members of different species.

Not all ravens share the same species: for example, we have all types of different ravens flying among us, including the Common Raven, Forest Raven, Chatham Raven, Chihuahuan Raven, and more. These are all members of their own species, but still all corvids and still ravens.

On the other hand, crows belong to their own respective species: the American Crow, the Common Crow, the Rook, and the Western Jackdaw, among others, are all corvids like ravens but are distinctly classified as crows due to their defining characteristics.

5. Feathers of A Crow vs Raven

The raven is a bird with highly glossed plumage that shows iridescent greens, blues, and purples. Sometimes, there’s an oily sheen to the feathers, making them appear even more colorful than they already are.

7 Key Differences Between a Crow and Raven | On The Feeder (5)
7 Key Differences Between a Crow and Raven | On The Feeder (6)
(Video) Live Birds In 4K! Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam at Sapsucker Woods

Crows also possess these color-changing traits but not as much, so you can tell one species from another by looking at the amount of shine on their respective feathers.

The shiny type will have less reflecting properties while others don’t quite reflect light nearly as much due to either being too dull or having no reflections coming off it.

Compared to crows, ravens have fluffier feathers, especially around their heads.

7. Movement of A Crow vs Raven

Ravens and crows are not the same. Ravens soar while Crow fly, but you can see differences when they’re on land too!

For example, crows usually walk around like humans do (never jump about or flap their wings in flight mode like most birds do) for exercise purposes.

Some even say crows walk like a super models! Check out this video for a chuckle:

A raven will hop from foot-to-hand then back again with a combination of both methods to get to his destination fast enough without running into any obstacles (or else getting eaten).

Another difference is that ravens can do somersaults when flying or even fly upside down.

They do have a similarity in behavior – they both stick together for safety and share food resources when possible.


Crows and ravens are similar in that they’re both large black birds but that’s where the parallels end. One bird is bigger than the other, one is smarter than the other, their feathers are different, they have different sounds, they behave differently, they’re related but not closely, and they move around differently.

(Video) Identifying cavity and stick nests and their occupants with Ian Fife from Birds Canada

Next time you see a large black bird in or around your yard, consider some of the key differences such as size, movement, or behavior to decipher whether it’s a crow or a raven. Then lean back and enjoy their presence. You just may discover a newfound fascination in these big black birds. I know I did!

Happy birding!


What are the differences between crows and ravens? ›

Crows most often have an even caw, caw sound, while ravens have a deeper, throatier, croaking call. If you're able to observe a bird up close, you'll see that ravens have fluffier feathers around their head and especially at their throat. They also have thicker beaks than crows, with more of a curve to the end.

Do ravens and crows eat the same thing? ›

They eat different things.

Both ravens and crows are omnivores, both scavenge for garbage and carrion and also hunt small insects and mammals, and they both love to pilfer the eggs and nestlings of other birds. However, ravens tend to eat more meat than crows do.

Which is bigger crow or raven? ›

Size and Appearance of a Crow vs Raven

Crows are typically smaller than ravens, and they have a more triangular-shaped head. Ravens being larger, measure 24 to 27 inches from head to tail and 3.5 to 4 inches for the wings. On the other hand, crows are 17 inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of 2.5 inches.

What is the difference between a black bird crow and raven? ›

Crows have a rounded or squared-off tail; ravens have a wedge-shaped tail which is more obvious during flight. Crows are smaller than ravens and have a smaller bill. Both ravens and crows are entirely black, including their feet and beaks.

Is a Crow smarter than a raven? ›

Both of these birds are extremely intelligent (though ravens seem a bit smarter than crows) and are quite playful. Ravens have at least 7 different calls and can imitate the calls of other birds (geese, jays, crows). They also use stunt flying to attract mates (barrel-rolling, flying upside-down, and somersaults).

What do crows and ravens eat? ›

Crows eat foods ranging from worms to snakes, to seeds, fruits, and vegetable crops. Crows are omnivores, meaning they eat a mixture of plants and animals that includes seeds, nuts, berries, rodents, snakes, eggs, and small fish.

What does 2 crows mean? ›

If you've ever wondered what it means whenever you see two crows, you're not alone. This could be a hint of good things to come. Seeing two crows is usually a sign of good fortune. As a result, it could have a significant impact on your life for the better. It was a positive experience.

Why do ravens put food in water? ›

Crows often dip their food in water. Some say it is to clean it, but as they don't consistently wash the food, it more likely is done in an attempt to soften it up and make it easier to eat.

What is the smartest bird? ›

#1: Crow — Putting Two and Two Together

No smartest bird list is complete without the crow! Crows are considered the smartest of all birds for several reasons. Furthermore, it's the variety of things they can do that puts them over the top. In Japan, crows have been seen dropping nuts into a busy roadway.

Can a crow mate with a raven? ›

Yes. In 1990, a wild American crow and a single raven successfully mated with each other in Toronto, Canada. The birds built a nest together and even fostered three little ones! The hybrid babies were larger than crow babies (more raven-sized), and their tails also had the wedge shape that ravens have.

Which bird has only two toes? ›

The Ostrich is the only bird to have this type of foot. Didactyl simply means “two-toed”. It does not have anything to do with the arrangement of the toes.

Are ravens friendly? ›

Ravens remember people who have been nice to them

Well, corvids also remember people who have been nice to them. There was, of course, that adorable case of a little girl who crows started bringing shiny objects to after she regularly fed them - but there's been a scientific study on the subject too.

What is the difference between a crow and a raven and a rook? ›

Both the Raven and Rook belong to the same 'Crow' family of birds, but one of the most distinctive features of a Rook is the peaked head and bare, greyish-white face. In addition, the Raven's tail is wedge-shaped in appearance compared to the Rooks, which is rounded.

What sound does a crow make? ›

The American Crow is not known for the beauty of its song, a series of loud caws. You may also hear crows making a “subsong”: a mixture of hoarse or grating coos, caws, rattles, and clicks. These are arranged in sequences that can be many minutes long, given quietly and with a rambling, improvised quality.

What sound does a raven make? ›

The most commonly heard is the classic gurgling croak, rising in pitch and seeming to come from the back of the throat. It's much deeper and more musical than a crow's simple, scratchy caw. Ravens make this call often.

What are the stupidest birds? ›

The kakapo is known as the dumbest bird in the world.

Can ravens speak? ›

Ravens can talk and sing

They have a vast repertoire of 100 or more vocalizations. With their deep voice, ravens can mimic human speech and singing and can imitate other bird sounds. They call to inform their mate to join them when food is found.

What is a group of crows called? ›

A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions. For instance, there is a folktale that crows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow.

What does a raven eat? ›

They are omnivorous and will feed on everything from small mammals to nesting birds, eggs and berries. They will also eat carrion, scavenge from other predators and even from human landfills. A group, or a flock, of ravens will raid seabird colonies, consuming the eggs and young of these colonies.

What are the food habits of crow? ›

Crows are omnivores, which means they eat nearly anything. Crows eat small animals such as mammals, amphibians, reptiles, eggs and carrion. They also eat insects, seeds, grains, nuts, fruit, non-insect arthropods, mollusks, worms and even other birds.

What does a crow eat? ›

Crows are omnivores (eats both plant and animal foods) and will sometimes come to eat one food, such as insects, but then stay around or return to eat another, such as garden produce. You won't be able to remove all potential crow food sources, but if you remove the easy meal, the crows may decide to look elsewhere.

What bird symbolizes death? ›

Ravens and crows are both black birds that act as a symbol of death or mourning.

Can crows sense death? ›

Can Crows Sense People's Incoming Death? No, crows cannot sense human death. But, since they're very smart birds, they can sense where a battle or war is likely to take place. Many people tell that they notice a murder of crows when someone beloved is going to die.

What are 3 crows called? ›

The most popular of these is known as a murder, but a group of crows can also be called a horde, mob, muster, or parcel. While we know two or three birds don't constitute a flock, there is no set number of birds needed to call a group a flock, and it often depends on their social behavior (2).

How do you call a crow for food? ›

Crow Calling Basics - YouTube

Do crows remember who feeds them? ›

The human learns their language and the crows learn their feeder's patterns and posture. They start to know and trust each other. Sometimes a crow leaves a gift. But crow gifts are not guaranteed.

Why do crows bury their food? ›

Crows and all members of the family Corvidae will store excess food. Crows sometimes will bury food in the the yard and cover it with leaves or grass. They also hide food in trees or rain gutters, or another spot. Like squirrels, crows will retrieve the stored food when needed.

Which bird is known as lazy bird? ›


What animal has the highest IQ? ›

CHIMPANZEES. RECKONED to be the most-intelligent animals on the planet, chimps can manipulate the environment and their surroundings to help themselves and their community. They can work out how to use things as tools to get things done faster, and they have outsmarted people many a time.

Is it true if you split a crows tongue it can talk? ›

How to Train a Crow to Talk? There is a prevalent myth that you need to split a crow's tongue to teach it to talk. Not only is this completely false, but it's cruel and unnecessary mutilation. A crow's tongue does not need to split for it to mimic human speech.

Why do crows not like ravens? ›

Crows and ravens may attack one another for nonadaptive reasons, because they compete with each other for food and space, or because they are nest predators of each other. We report 3 main results. First, although ravens are much larger than crows, crows chased and attacked ravens in ∼97% of observations.

Are crows afraid of ravens? ›

More than 2,000 eBird observations showed that crows were nearly always the aggressors during encounters with ravens—but only if crows had the edge in numbers.

What are baby ravens called? ›

Baby crows are called chicks. Once they hatch, they're called hatchlings, then nestlings whilst they stay within the nest and fledglings once they leave the nest. Baby crows that are around one year old are sometimes called yearlings.

Which bird has legs on head? ›

According to your question there is no bird which has leg on it's head. This seems to be a Hindi riddle and you can't translate a riddle into another language because meaning completely changes.

Which bird has the longest toes? ›

It remains unknown why the amber bird evolved such an unusual feature. The only known animal with disproportionally long digits is the aye-aye. The aye-aye is a lemur that uses its long middle fingers to fish larvae and insects out of tree trunks for food.

What type of bird has red feet? ›

The red-footed booby (Sula sula) is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae. Adults always have red feet, but the colour of the plumage varies. They are powerful and agile fliers, but they are clumsy in takeoffs and landings.

What is a group of ravens called? ›

Behind the Conspiracy

Many birds are described with delightful or noble collective nouns such as a “charm of finches” or a “parliament of owls,” but a group of ravens is called a conspiracy.

What are crows afraid of? ›

Use balloons, CDs, reflective tape, or anything else shiny to scare crows away. For some reason, shiny, reflective objects scare crows. Some people think that it's because crows are scared of their own reflection.

What Colour beaks do crows have? ›

Unlike the rook, the crow's beak is black or grey. As many as one million pairs of carrion crows live in the UK – though they are largely solitary and wary birds. The lonely 'caw' cry is often the only birdsong on autumn and winter lowlands.

What Colour beak does a raven have? ›

Raven (Corvus corax)

They have thick necks with shaggy throat feathers and a thick, black bill.

What is a black bird with a grey head called? ›

Coloeus monedula

Measuring 34–39 centimetres (13–15 in) in length, the western jackdaw is a black-plumaged bird with a grey nape and distinctive pale-grey irises. It is gregarious and vocal, living in small groups with a complex social structure in farmland, open woodland, on coastal cliffs, and in urban settings.

Can Ravens and crows mate? ›

Yes. In 1990, a wild American crow and a single raven successfully mated with each other in Toronto, Canada. The birds built a nest together and even fostered three little ones! The hybrid babies were larger than crow babies (more raven-sized), and their tails also had the wedge shape that ravens have.

Are ravens friendly to humans? ›

Ravens are quite vigorous at defending their young and are usually successful at driving off perceived threats. They attack potential predators by flying at them and lunging with their large bills. Humans are occasionally attacked if they get close to a raven nest, though serious injuries are unlikely.

What is the smartest bird? ›

#1: Crow — Putting Two and Two Together

No smartest bird list is complete without the crow! Crows are considered the smartest of all birds for several reasons. Furthermore, it's the variety of things they can do that puts them over the top. In Japan, crows have been seen dropping nuts into a busy roadway.

What does it mean when a raven visits you? ›

Since many cultures associate black with evil and darkness, it makes sense that these birds are considered unholy and ominous. In many communities, the sight of a raven is considered to bring the news of someone's death.


1. Crow-maggedon With Ranger Sharon
(Mississippi Park Connection)
2. Feeding Crows for the Shradh | Hindu ritual of feeding crows | feeding crows benefit | birds food
3. Are crows the ultimate problem solvers? - Inside the Animal Mind: Episode 2 - BBC Two
4. Four Crows on a rooftop discuss what to do next
(Nature, Creativity, Humanity)
5. Feeding Fish and Coral in your Saltwater Aquarium
6. "Crows are self-aware and know the extent of their knowledge".
(Science for Nature(Cosmology))

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated: 09/16/2022

Views: 6617

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.