Common Raven

Common Raven

Details About The Common Raven

  • General Information

    The Common Raven is the largest species of Corvus. These birds exhibit high intelligence and may be the smartest bird species. Smart = dangerous predator. They thrive around people. Over the centuries, ravens have been the subject of mythology, folklore, art and literature. On the northwest coast of America, they are revered as a spiritual figure or god.

    Latin Name: Corvus corax
    Class: Aves
    Order: Passeriformes
    Family: Corvidae
    Length: 22-27 inches
    Weight: 24-56 grams
    Wingspan: 45-51 inches
    Common Name: Carrion Crow
    Etymology: corvus (Latin) - "crow"; corax (Greek) - "raven/crow"

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    Ravens have long, narrow wings with fingers at ends in flight. They fly gracefully with flowing wingbeats and buoyancy. Ravens soar and glide with slow flaps. They do acrobatics with rolls and somersaults in the air; have been seen flying upside down for a half-mile. The young play games, like flying high, dropping a stick, and diving to catch it in midair.

    A Raven makes many different sounds, from a low, gurgling croak to a shrill alarm call. Over thirty categories of sounds have been identified. They can mimic other birds and learn words. The most common croak can be heard a mile away.

    Ravens prefer the tundra, coniferous forests and brush land; often in mountainous regions up to the tree line. They can also be found in high desert, sea coast, and grass lands.

  • Nesting

    Ravens, like most raptors, are monogamous. The male brings sticks, and the female builds the nest on cliffs, in trees, on telephone poles, on billboards or under bridges. Some sticks are 3 feet long and 1 inch diameter for the base. During the 9-day building process, they add bones and wire and smaller sticks for the female to weave a basket; then add a cup lined with mud, sheep wool, fur, bark strips, grasses and trash. The outer nest can be five feet across and two feet deep. The inner cup is 9-12 inches across and 5-6 inches deep. Egg laying begins in late February. The female lays 3-7 pale bluish-green, brown-blotched eggs, which incubate for 18-21 days. Both parents feed. The young fledge after 35-42 days but stay with the parents for six months.

  • Distribution

    Ravens are found year-round in western U.S. into northern Mexico and up through Alaska, also in all of Canada and into New England.

  • Food

    Omnivores with a very diverse diet; seed, grains, pet food, carrion, garbage, landfills, eggs, chicks, newborn lambs, mice, pigeons, beetles, scorpions, fish, dog dung, buds and berries.

  • Current Resident Birds

    This Common Raven, Diaval, is named for Maleficent's witty sidekick in the recent adaptation of Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Ravens are excellent tool users, and Diaval has learned how to use a paintbursh to make beautfiul abstract art!

    Transferred from Arizona's Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation in 2010, Poe, the Common Raven, waxes philosophical on our display trail and delights visitors with his drop in a bucket, trilling, and mimickry sounds. He is named for Poet Edgar Allen Poe who is famous for his poem "The Raven."

    Kylo Ren, our newest Common Raven, came to us in 2016. When he first arrived, he would often scare staff with his excellent imitation of a woman screaming. He is named after the Star Wars character. 

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    In addition to making mischief, Common Ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a Raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. Poor Baby...

    Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing when he used the raven instead of some other bird to croak out “nevermore” in his famous poem. The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but the real bird is somewhat of a mystery.