Bird of the Week – Common Ravens

By Bob Walker

The largest of the passerines, perching birds, Common Ravens (Corvus corax) can be seeing flying high over the canyons, soaring on thermals in the Los Alamos area. Also known as the Northern Raven, these large crow-like birds are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders and consume food sources ranging from insects to garbage to small animals. Their tendency to prey on the nests of other birds does not endear them to bird-lovers, but their high-level of intelligence is impressive. They know your trash day and which bins are likely to be overflowing.

Some other interesting Raven tidbits:

  • They have one of the largest brains for a bird.
  • They can recognize and remember human faces.
  • They tend to mate for life.
  • The young engage in playful activities.
  • They can live for more than 20 years in the wild, and 40 years in captivity.

Ravens can be difficult to distinguish at a distance from their smaller cousin, the American Crow. Ravens have thicker, shaggier feathers around their necks, a much heavier beak, and a deeper croaking voice (as opposed to the Crow, whose voice sounds more like a barking dog to me). The recordings below might help you distinguish the two birds by sound.

Common Raven:

 

American Crow:

There are many interesting articles about the Common Raven on these web pages: Wikipedia, identify.whatbird.com, and allaboutbirds.org.

Enjoy more beautiful photos of Common Ravens at the Alan Murphy and Glenn Bartley web sites.