Smart birds—crows, and ravens are part of the Corvid family. This group of perching birds includes blue jays, magpies, and nutcrackers.
In Old Norse and English cultures, a dark-haired person who steals is referred to as a ‘raven.’ Native Americans associated the raven with prophecy and an omen of loss.
Smart Bird Intelligence
As adaptable as the raccoon and coyote, corvids live in a variety of environments – wherever there’s a ready food source – and take full advantage of abundant opportunities that humans offer.
- Omnivores – corvids will eat just about anything; insects, snails, worms, frogs, snakes, garbage, carrion, seeds, grain, berries and other fruit, fish, small turtles, crayfish, mice, and baby birds from other species.
- They quickly learn how to access food sources whether it’s by opening trash cans or dropping nuts from distance.
- Corvids are social animals, mating for life and living in extended family groups.
- Males and females build nests together. Between 3 – 9 eggs are laid and chicks hatch after about two weeks. Older siblings help care for the young.
- Family units provide education, protection, comfort, socialization, and companionship.
- Thought to be one of the most intelligent birds, experts say their reasoning abilities are about the same as a seven-year-old child.
- Crows remember events for ten years plus, teaching new generations what they learned.
- Crows and ravens work in groups to problem solve.
- Corvids have developed, sophisticated language skills – differing group and family dialects.
- Mobbing is when they work together to drive off predators.
- Corvids enjoy playing and require lots of mental stimulation.
- They notice when a member of their group has died, holding ‘funerals.’
What are the differences between crows and ravens?
.7 – 1.5 lbs
Crows make caw-caw calls.
Spend winter nights in communal roots, sometimes numbering in the thousands.
Vocalize while flying.
1.5 – 4.5 lbs
Ravens make growl-like calls.
Hides food in stashes and uses distraction to draw attention away from them.
Large throat hackle feathers.
Mostly hunts for food in pairs.
Soars without making calls.
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Audubon – American Crow
Audubon – Common Raven
Audobon – How to Tell the Difference between Crows
Audobon – How to Tell a Raven from a Crow
Cornell Lab of Ornithology – American Crow Life History
Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Common Raven
Cornell Cooperative Extension – Crows – Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheet (PDF)
John Marzluff – Professor of Environmental & Forest Sciences, College of the Environment, University of Washington
Humans & Corvids:
Trash Collecting Crows
Chuck and I – friendship
Canuck and I – Facebook page (Seattle)