Raven is Largest Song Bird in the World

Raven Munching Walnuts

Raven Munching Walnuts

Ravens have a large range of vocalizations or calls; at least 30 different calls with many distinct variations have been documented. They are the largest songbirds in the world. Each bird uses different calls in length, strength, and pitch. Best known is the deep “quork, quork” call, with the males’ call stronger than the females. Ravens that are mates share calls in common to help identify their territory, and to keep track of each other when they are separated. They match their calls with postures and gestures to increase their meaning. The raven in the photo lives at the Grand Canyon and knows that if he “quorks” repeatedly the tourists will soon provide him with some of their food.
The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Macauley Library provides an opportunity to listen to 150,000 animal sounds on their website.  Among those available are the Common Raven, and you you can listen to them if you visit the website. You can also hear the  the “thrump, thrump” of wings beating as the ravens fly off.  Note that the calls vary depending on the location of the birds in the United States and Canada.  The commentary for each call explains the exact location and other helpful information.

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Cornell labs  All about the Common Raven

Raven Book

The Un-Common Raven Book Cover

The Un-Common Raven Book Cover

A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet researcher Emily Cory, and friend to Shade the raven. Because of my relationship with Emily, I wrote a children’s book, Shade; a story about a very smart raven, describing the work Emily has done in training Shade and documenting her intelligence.  I became Shade’s friend too, and highly value this opportunity to interact with wildlife. I realized I wanted to know more about these clever birds and share it with others.
The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird is a description of one species of raven, the Common Raven, and is based on the considerable research being done about these amazing birds, especially the groundbreaking studies of Bernd Heinrich and John Marzluff.
The book shows the home territories in North America where Common Ravens live, their physical characteristics, feeding habits, family life.  Do ravens really play with other ravens?  And just how smart are these birds?  I also discuss the special relationship that has developed over the years between humans and ravens.
Undoubtedly, the most exciting and enjoyable aspect of this book are the photos. They were taken by local Sedona, Arizona, resident Loren Haury.  Loren chose the photos from his extensive collection of raven photos, and they bring the text to life for readers.
As John Marzluff stated, “(The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird) is….An
engaging introduction to one of the world’s most fascinating and influential birds.”
I think you will be amazed as you learn about the Common Raven. My life has been enriched from my association with these wizards of the bird world.

They are truly uncommon.

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