Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Physical Description: Common Ravens have large, curved bills partially covered with feathers. The plumage is black with a glossy bluish-purple sheen. Their legs, feet, and bills are also black. Their longs tails are wedge shaped in flight. They have elongated pointy feathers called hackles on their necks that give their neck a thick shaggy appearance. They weigh between 24 and 53 ounces and have wingspans just over 4 feet.
Common Ravens are well known for their intelligence. Numerous experiments conducted to test the problem-solving capabilities of Common Ravens have shown that these birds have cognition on par with people and some great apes. Scientists have discovered they use their beaks and wings much like humans rely on their hands to make gestures, such as for pointing to an object.
Young Common Ravens are playful creatures. They throw sticks and catch them in the midair, tease wild animals and dogs in a game "catch me if you can" and have been observed sliding down the hills covered with snow during the winter time.
Common ravens have displayed complex cooperative abilities that were previously only seen in a handful of mammalian species. However, collaborations only succeed if both trust each other. Those that have misbehaved by taking more than their fair share are subsequently shunned.
A group of ravens is called a conspiracy, an unkindness, or a constable of Ravens.
Habitat: They are found in a variety of habitats including open woodlands, rocky mountain areas, coastal, river, desert, and plains habitats.
Range: They are found across the Arctic regions and temperate regions of North America and Eurasia and far south to the mountains of South America and North Africa.
Diet: Common Ravens are mainly scavengers, and eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter, including small rodents, lizards, frogs, mollusks, insects, seeds, wild fruits, nestlings, and eggs of other birds. They will often hide, or cache, their food supplies.
Lifespan: Common Ravens generally live up to 15 years in the wild and over 40 years in human care.
Social Structure: Adult Common Ravens have been known to mate and form pairs, often for life, and aggressively defend their breeding territory. They build large nests with sticks in which females lay and incubate three to seven eggs each spring. The male will feed the female while she is incubating. Both the parents feed and care for their young who remain dependent for several months. The offspring fledge at five to six weeks. Fledglings stay with the parents for six months.
They nest in rocky cliffs or tall trees, and they may use the same site year after year, adding material on top of the old nest. A Common Raven’s nest is a bulky basket of large sticks and twigs, with a deep depression in center lined with grass, bark strips, moss, and animal hair. Their nests are two to four feet in diameter.
Status: Least Concern1
Other: The Common Raven is the largest species of songbird. They are very intelligent birds and seem to apply reasoning to new situations. They are expert fliers, and engage in acrobatic flight displays with rolls, somersaults and dives during breeding season. They have also been observed flying upside down.
Ravens have often played important roles in culture, mythology, and literature.
Ravens can mimic animal calls and human voices. In the wild, ravens mostly mimic calls of wolves and foxes, luring them to dead animals so that they can help the ravens by opening the carcass thereby, making the scraps more accessible for them. Non-vocal sounds produced by ravens include bill snapping and wing whistles. Clapping or clicking has been observed more often in females than in males. If a member of a pair is lost, its mate reproduces the calls of its lost partner to encourage its return.