COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
DESCRIPTION: The Common Raven is a large bird of the Corvidae family. It is entirely black, including the slightly decurved large bill, the eyes and the legs and feet. Sexes are similar. This species is around 66 cm (25 inches long).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Corvus-corax – the call is a low-pitch ‘kwaaawk’.
NAME: The English name ‘Raven’ for this bird derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘Hraefn’, an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call. The Latin genus name ‘Corvus’ means ‘crow’. The Latin genus name ‘corax’ is from Greek ‘korax’, and would also be an anomatopoeia for the bird’s call.
HABITAT: Prefers the forest and rural areas.
DIET: The common raven has an omnivorous diet which includes scavenging. For large carrion it waits for other animals to tear the carcass apart because it doesn’t have the bill shape to do this. Feeds on rodents, invertebrates, small mammals, bird eggs and chicks, also seeds and grain. Attracted to garbage landfills and roadkill.
NESTING: The nest is a bowl structure made of sticks and lined with soft materials. It is located in a tree or on a cliff, sometimes around human-made structures. An average of six blue-green eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The common raven range encompasses almost the whole northern hemisphere including parts of the tundra. It is a year-round resident.
ON PEI: The common raven is a common year-round resident on Prince Edward Island.
CONSERVATION: The population of this raven would have increased in the last few decades, to reach around 20 million. They benefit from the human presence. Ravens can turn into pests in some agricultural areas where they kill young lambs and calves.
NOTES: The raven has been associated with human societies for millennia, being part of their mythology in a positive way, but also as an omen of death. One legend associated with that bird is about the ravens of the Tower of London .
Intelligence: The common raven has a relatively large brain and is known to display various problem-solving ‘skills’. Is the behavior described in this article also an intelligent skill?
The common raven is the official bird of the Yukon Territory of Canada.
SIMILAR SPECIES: American Crow – these two species might be confused, but there are different ways to tell them apart. The raven is larger, and its call has a lower pitch. Ravens do not gather in large flocks like crows, and do not mob birds of prey. Actually it’s the other way around – it is the crows that will mob ravens.
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
The video below provides a good sample of the raven calls, which seem to require quite an effort on the part of the bird to belch out its very loud and repetitive kwaawwks.