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Species Description

Common Raven

Corvus corax


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae

Description

Black overall. 61 cm (24 in) in length. Long, thick bill; wedge-shaped tail.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early March and extends until the end of April. Breeding habitat is wooded mountainous regions with rocky cliffs and ledges. The cup-shaped nest is built by both adults on a cliff or ledge, or sometimes in a tree. The nest is built of sticks and twigs and lined with shreds of bark and hair. The female lays 3-7 (usually 4-6) eggs that she incubates for 18-21 days. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs. The young are altricial and fledge in 38-44 days after hatching.

Natural History

The foraging habitat of the Common Raven includes a variety of habitats in upper elevations such as woodlands, fields, and field edges. Its diet includes small mammals, insects, carrion, mollusks, berries, and garbage. It finds and eats most of its food on the ground. It will break mollusk shells by repeatedly dropping them on rocks or other hard surfaces. The Common Raven is also known as a species that "caches" food, meaning that it will hide and sometimes even bury food to be eaten later.

Range

Common Raven Region Map The Common Raven occurs in the western United States, the Appalachians in the east, and throughout most of Canada all year. In Georgia it is uncommon, but it is sometimes seen in the northeastern parts of the state.

Conservation Status

It was once thought that this species damaged livestock and game animals; therefore, the Common Raven was extensively trapped. Today this species is listed as Endangered by the states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Similar Species

The species most similar to the Common Raven in the eastern United States are the American Crow, and the Fish Crow The American Crow (45 cm in length) and the Fish Crow (39 cm in length) are both smaller than the Common Raven. Both also lack the thick bill and wedge-shaped tail of the Common Raven.