Common Raven Featured on NPR’s Science Friday

If you’re looking for good (science) books to read this summer, here’s where to find a few, including my own The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird! I happened to be listening and called in and was lucky to be picked to go on the air (I think it helped that I live in Sedona).

This podcast can be found on iTunes, NPR Science Friday, Program for June 16, 2014–Your Summer Science Books.

Science Friday Audio Podcast

Ravens are not Picky Eaters–they even love Cheetos!

Ravens and their Crow cousins eat enthusiastically from all food groups. Since these brainy birds are omnivores, eating both animal and plant life, they are satisfied with standard bird fare like bird eggs, seeds, nuts, fruits, and (yuck) “road kill.” But over the co-evolution of both ravens and humans, ravens also have learned to feast on human food. They started following early human hunters to pick over scraps from their meals, but today’s raven is more likely to be dumpster diving for other kinds of leftovers discarded by humans at the local fast food restaurant–hamburger buns, meat, you name it. Ravens have learned that wherever humans are, there is food.  Dr. John  Marzluff from the University of Washington has been researching ravens and crows for many years and he believes that the willingness of these birds to broaden their food tastes, which is unusual in the animal world, has helped them survive successfully over the years. It’s hard to think we humans have contributed to the success of another species by encouraging them to eat our junk food, but in the author’s neighborhood one of the raven favorites is Cheetos!IMG_1629 IMG_1516 [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Raven Vocalizations

IMG_1619If you haven’t visited the Cornell Ornithology Lab, you are missing out on learning information about birds from around the world. I used this site in gathering information about ravens in general and to listen to their vocalizations. Visit:

In the box,  Search recordings by species, enter “Common Raven” and you will be taken to a page with listings for raven calls from all over the world (or wherever ravens live).  The vocalizations include variations on the well-recognized, deep-sounding “quork,” as well as the many knocking sounds, screeches, etc.  Visit the “American Crow” section as well and you will learn to distinguish the vocalizations between these two bird cousins. Crow sounds are much higher in pitch because they do not have the large chest of the Common Raven.

Ravens and Crow–what’s the difference?

3 Raven Fledgings

3 Raven Fledglings

How can you tell a raven from a crow?
While crows and ravens share many physical characteristics, they also have obvious differences such as size and wingspan that allow us to tell them apart.

Raven VS Crow
Common Ravens Crows
Weigh 2-3 1 pound or less
Tails are long and wedge-shaped Tails are shorter and rounded
Wingspan is 4-5 feet Wingspan is 2-3 feet
Wings rustle in flight No wing sounds
Totally black mouth beak eyes feet Beaks are lighter colored
Shaggy hair on throat Smooth throat
Long thick beaks Shorter thinner beaks
Ravens soar in flight Crows flap their wings
Call is deep quork  quork Call is weaker caw caw

Watch a PBS nature episode on Crows
A Murder of Crows ~ Full Episode | Nature | PBS