Saturday, May 21, 2022

Ravens and Crows, What’s the Difference? – Ask A Scientist

My name is Chase Mendenhall I'm the curator of birds here at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. And I'm here to answer a question that I get all the time Which is “How do you tell the difference between a raven and a crow?” The main difference between a raven and a crow – This is a raven down here, this large bird And the smaller bird up here is an American Crow. The big difference are the differences in size. The raven is about three times the size of a crow. .

But Often when you see these birds you're seeing them in a tree or you're seeing them flying over head and it's really difficult to estimate size. So it seems really easy to tell the difference between these two birds when they're next to each other in a museum but out in the field it can be rather difficult. So there's a couple other tricks that I use .

To distinguish whether these large black birds I'm seeing outside are ravens or crows So, one really big feature that differs between the two birds are the heaviness of the bill. The crow has a kind of dainty bill. It's much smaller and it doesn't have nearly as many feathers covering the nose openings Where the raven has a much thicker, heavier bill .

And it definitely has kind of a furry nose where the nares are covered by feathers. The other way to tell the difference between these birds would be, when they're flying over head, you'll see that their tails are often open and it's hard to estimate size then as well The crow will generally have a tail that looks like a hand-fan where all of the feathers are about the same length .

And it looks like kind of a classic hand-fan. Where the raven is going to have kind of a point. And the tail looks often like a diamond or like a spade. And so those are two ways to often tell the difference when they're flying over head. And then the other really important way to tell the difference would be to listen to these birds. So they have very different calls. .

When you hear a crow, it's a much smaller bird, the call is much higher pitched. If you were to write out the way that the sound sounds You would write with a “C” or with a “K” in order to describe the sound and It sounds like this: *KAW KAW KAW KAW* *KAW KAW KAW* Where the raven is going to have a much lower sounding call .

And if you were to write out the onomatopoeia of this bird's call it would definitely start with “R” it would be much lower pitched and you would hear the “R” for “Raven” versus the “C” for “Crow” and this is what the raven sounds like: *RAW RAW RAW RAW RAW RAW* So I hope you can use those sounds .

And these tips and tricks for determining which bird is which. They're not the only black birds in North America and they're definitely not the only crows and the only ravens in the world but if you are in a city or in a park generally birds you're looking at tend to be crows and if you're in a wooded area far away from people you might be running more into ravens. .

But there are other birds out there that are black and there are other birds in these groups that act like these birds and even sound like them and even sound like them in some instances and they are not black like blue jays and other jays. So don't get too caught up in the name. It's important to just observe the birds when they're in front of you .

And then go back to your books later on and it should be fun. But yeah I hope this helps you, helps with any of the confusion between crows and ravens.


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