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Large corvid, roughly 22-27 inches long. Wingspan reaches over 4 feet.
 Similar Species
This bird can be difficult to seperate from crows. Best told from its smaller cousins by its larger size and wedge-shaped (as opposed to fan-shaped) tail. Shaggier appearance overall, with long hackles on the throat and a shaggy crown. Bill is thicker and more powerful then that of a crow. Wingspan is longer, wings broader than crows, with more emarginated primaries (fingers). Much more prone to soaring than crows, wingbeats and flight more like that of a buzzard.
Best told from look-alike Chihuahuan Raven of the American Southwest by range, habitat, larger size, and, most reliably, the gray bases to the feathers on its neck (usually not visible except in windy conditions or when the bird is preening).
Genetic studies have shown quite deep divisions within the North American birds3.
Very adaptable, able to survive in a wide range of habitats, from mountains to deserts to forests, though usually at higher elevations. Prefers wilderness regions, but slowly becoming conditioned to surviving alongside humans, in some cases even suburban areas. Increasing seen in urban areas.
Very intelligent, considered by many to be the most intelligent of all birds. Recent tests indicate that ravens may actually use a form of logic, not just trial-and-error or instinct, that begins as a basic framework of concepts and is added upon and improved with age and experience, just like with humans.
Soars often, and with all the prowess and aerial finesse of a raptor.
Quite playful, often observed exhibiting aerial maneuvers (generally in pairs) ranging from barrel rolls to dives. Even observed flying upside-down, sometimes for significant distances.
Omnivorous, consuming a wide range of food items. These include carrion (its usual fare) and vegetable matter (such as berries and nuts), as well as small animals that may be directly captured, occasionally up to the size of young squirrels. Ravens were once known as "wolf birds", due to their tendency to follow large mammal carnivores in hopes of scavenging the remains of their kills.
They mate for life. A stick nest is built on a cliff ledge or in trees.
Calls highly variable, but mainly croaking, resonating "Ka-ark!" or "Kronk!", as well as bell-like calls. Most vocalizations are lower and hoarser than those of crows.
Listen in an external program
Listen in an external program
An American Crow can be heard in the background
Recording by Silverwolf
More unusual recordings can be found in post 5 of this thread
 In Culture
Ravens have long been viewed as mysterious and shadowy, likely due to their ebony plumage. Raven is one of the principle spirits in Native American Folklore. Though often portrayed as trickster, Raven is regarded by some tribes as the "Creator", the spirit who formed the earth. Ravens are often prominent figures on totem poles of Northwestern tribes.
Well-known is the superstition from King Charles II's time that, with the absence of ravens at the Tower of London, the tower and the kingdom would fall. Today, several ravens are permanently kept on the grounds, and tended to by "the Ravenmaster"4.
Ravens are popular in literature, often to set a dreary or ominous mood. Ravens were one of the birds most frequently mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare, and who could forget the corvid's appearance in Edgar Allen Poe's great poem, "The Raven"
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