Bird Identification Crow versus Raven

I’m pretty good at identifying birds when they are sitting next to each other but when I see one independently of another that looks similar then I’m not so good.   Woodpeckers can trick me, with the exception of the pileated, they are somewhat difficult to tell apart.  Crows and ravens also often get the best of me.

Besides the fact the crow and raven are both smart black birds they really aren’t that similar in appearance if you look closely. Ravens are much bigger and have a shinier wet look to their feathers while the feathers of a crow are duller.  The tail feathers of a raven are more diamond or wedge shaped when compared to a fan shape of the crows. The bill of a crow is shorter and sharper than the longer more curved bill of a raven that is also larger on the top than on the bottom of the bill. Ravens also have feathers beneath their bills called hackles.

The raven appears more majestic and graceful to me while the crow a little bit more wild and harried.  Ravens don’t flock or gather in large groups like crows do and they also don’t caw incessantly.  Here’s a short video that can help you distinguish between the crow and the raven.

Ravens and Crows in Mythology-

Crows are associated with war and death in Irish mythology. In Cornish folklore crows are associated with the “otherworld” and so must be treated with respect. In Australian Aboriginal mythology, the crow is an ancestral being. In Buddhism the protector of the Dharma is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms.

The raven is revered as god by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest in North America and in northeast Asia. Several totem poles erected by native Americans in Washington, Alaska and Oregon depict ravens and the stories they feature in. In the Old Testament of the Bible there are several references to common Ravens. In the British Isles, ravens were symbolic to the Celts. In Irish mythology, the goddess Morrígan alighted on the hero Cú Chulainn’s shoulder in the form of a raven after his death.

Leave a Reply