How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

These black birds may look similar in some ways, but several distinctive traits help set them apart. 

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Published: 10/22/2012
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Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine



My favorite crow fact is that a group of them is known as a 'murder of crows'.

When I lived in the suburbans, I didn't like crows much as they were very noisy and often made a mess ripping open trash bags on garbage day. Now I live in a rural area and I love crows because they chase the red-tailed hawks away from my chickens.


I have a family of crows here every day. They come down to my pond, usually in pairs, and love to bathe, one at a time in the same exact spot. Yesterday I heard what I thought was the whole family cawwing in the woods next to my home. I kept listening, and in a few minutes they appeared overhead..only two of them chasing a red-tailed hawk. I've noticed crows and hawks do not get along at all. When they're at the pond, you can watch the antagonism between them. Usually the crows win after a lot of bullying and tail pulling on their part. I love these guys, they're part of my avian family all year.

When a Raven flies by....

You can also tell a Raven from the sound its wings make when it flies. You can literally hear the wind in their wings, whoosh, whoosh when they fly. Crows wing beats are all but silent when they fly.

Raven vs. Crow

An easy way to to remember (courtesy of Joe Sweeney from California) is to think of their tails and the first initial of the bird. Hence, "Cut" = Crow, and "Round" = Raven.


We have exceptionally large number of "Cravens". The are larger than crows, smaller than raven, the tails are half way between fan shaped and "raven" shaped. Their flight seems to be a mixture of "rowing" and "flapping". Their voices seem to be a mix as well. They do look more crow, but they are giants compared to, say the Los Angeles crow population. The come roost in the trees around the plaza by the thousands - yep, thousands. The parking lot is a sea of black when they are waiting for the right time to melt into the tree tops. So, are they crows, raven, subspecies of etc.?

Sounds like the behavior of

Sounds like the behavior of Grackles, but they are smaller than either a raven or a crow. They congregate in huge groups like that in urban areas, usually right over wherever your car happens to be parked.

All ravens are crows

All ravens are crows (corvidae) ie membersof the Crow Family, but not all members of the Crow family are Ravens...

Raven vs Crow

I hear very often the Common Raven and it has a very different and distinct call from the crow.
In my rural area, we see the Common Raven more often.

When Ravens fly over they

When Ravens fly over they make a distinct call: KaLuuk, KaLuuk. Can't mistake it for any other. Usually in pairs. I've never seen a Mob of Ravens. Just Crows.

Ron-Oregon N.W.

It's usually referred to as a

It's usually referred to as a 'murder' of crows.

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