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Q&A

How can I tell the difference between an American Crow, and a Common Raven that lives in America?

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I live in Massachusetts, which is part of New England, in the Northeast section of the United States. We have a large number of birds I identify as crows, and only crows. I've heard of ravens, but thought they were mainly found in Europe and other countries in that region of the world.

A friend recently told me that, although there are other species of crows, those I see most frequently are probably called the American Crow. She also said the Common Raven, which looks similar to that crow, lives year-round in a large portion of the United States, including New England.

Now that I know ravens exist here, I'd like to know if I've seen them, or are fortunate enough to have some living in my yard.

In terms of physical characteristics, behavior, diet, or other factors, how can I tell the difference between the American Crow, and the Common Raven that lives in America?

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/14909. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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3 answers

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Ravens spend a lot of time aloft, and fly steadily and sometimes quite high (also solo or in loose pairs most of the time). They call infrequently "cronk" or "cronk cronk" while airborne. They seem to need a good reason to take off but also to land. When they're perched (which they like to do from a good vantage point), a good look can show shaggy feathers on the throat. Crows are more likely to spend time on the ground, and change course more often, as well as being more willing to take flight.

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According to this article, (How to Tell a Raven From a Crow):

Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

According to this article (Similar Species: Crows and Ravens):

One of the best ways to tell crows and ravens apart is by their calls.

On this page you can find recordings of what each sounds like.

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The biggest difference between ravens and crows is that ravens average 2 feet long with a 4 ft wingspan, while crows are about 1.5 ft long with a wingspan of 3 feet. These numbers can vary a bit regionally and by individual, but for a casual birder, the size difference along is enough to differentiate them.

The ravens also have a distinctly deeper call, more like a croak. They are rarely seen in large flocks. I've personally only seen them in more than ones and twos around carrion, where they all want to eat.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/14913. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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