Birds of Prey

Common Raven

Latin name: Corvus corax
Weight: 1.5 - 3.5 pounds
Wingspan: 46 inches
Life expectancy: 15 years

Habitat and Distribution: Their habitat is generally coniferous forests and rocky coasts; in the West ravens are also present in deserts and arid mountains. Common Raven nests are usually placed on a cliff or in the top of a conifer. Common Ravens are residents from the Aleutians in northern Alaska and northern Canada south throughout western United States and to Minnesota, the Great Lakes, and northern New England; in Appalachians to northwestern Georgia. They are also found in Eurasia and North Africa.

In most of its range, the Common Raven is common only in wilderness areas; despite its large size and demonstrated intelligence, it is very sensitive to human persecution and was long ago driven out of settled areas by shooting and poisoning. They regularly ride on rising air currents and frequently indulge in aerial displays, with mock fighting, tumbling, and other forms of acrobatics.

Diet: Ravens are primarily scavengers, and around towns in the North they compete with gulls for garbage. They also raid seabird colonies, consuming many eggs and young. They also eat seeds, grains, and wild fruits.

Status: No special status.

Personal Biography: The New Canaan Nature Center's Common Raven came to us in April of 2004 from a rehabilitation facility in Ohio. The Raven was found as a baby and kept illegally by a family in Ohio for nearly 10 years. The United States Fish and Wildlife Services confiscated the raven in July of 2003 and it was held at the rehab facility until placed here at the New Canaan Nature Center.

Facts: Common Ravens are similar to the American Crow but larger (21-27"), with a heavier bill and wedge-shaped tail. At rest, the throat appears shaggy because of long, lance-shaped feathers. They often soar like hawks. Their vocalizations are deep varied, guttural croaking or a hollow wonk-wonk.

Common Ravens are thought to be among the most intelligent of birds. They can learn to imitate a variety of sounds and can even talk. Common Ravens are the largest species of songbird and largest all-black bird in the world.

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