Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Chihuahuan Raven

Corvus cryptoleucus

In the dry grasslands of the southwest, the Common Raven is replaced by this smaller species, about the size of an American Crow. Chihuahuan Ravens are often more sociable than Common Ravens, and flocks of up to several hundred may be seen soaring over the plains on warm winter days, or scavenging at garbage dumps. In treeless terrain, they often build their nests on the crossbars of utility poles.
Conservation status At northern end of range (eastern Colorado, western Kansas), far less common today than in 1800s. Still very common farther south.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Arid and semi-arid grassland, scrub, yucca flats. Mostly a bird of dry grasslands. Generally avoids both wooded areas and true deserts, but occurs in brushy country in the lowlands. In the southwest, Common Raven lives in both drier areas (extreme deserts of lowlands) and wetter areas (mountain forests) than the Chihuahuan Raven, but is seldom in the grasslands.
In the dry grasslands of the southwest, the Common Raven is replaced by this smaller species, about the size of an American Crow. Chihuahuan Ravens are often more sociable than Common Ravens, and flocks of up to several hundred may be seen soaring over the plains on warm winter days, or scavenging at garbage dumps. In treeless terrain, they often build their nests on the crossbars of utility poles.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Mostly forages on ground, sometimes above ground in shrubs or cactus. Except during nesting season, usually forages in flocks. Often gathers at garbage dumps, and may patrol along highways looking for road kills.


Eggs

5-6, sometimes 3-8. Pale olive to gray-green, blotched with brown and lavender. Incubation is thought to be by both parents, about 18-21 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about a month after hatching.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about a month after hatching.

Diet

Omnivorous. Diet is highly varied, but mostly animal matter, including large insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, rodents, lizards, and eggs and young of other birds. Often eats carrion and garbage. Also feeds on grain, seeds, berries, and fruits, including cactus fruit.


Nesting

Sometimes nests in loose colonies where good nesting sites are concentrated. In some areas, breeds mostly in summer, perhaps to take advantage of better food supply after summer rains begin. Nest site is in tree, shrub, or large yucca, or on utility pole; sometimes on buildings, towers, other artificial supports. Height varies, 5-40' above the ground. Nest (thought to be built by female) is a bulky mass of sticks and thorny twigs, lined with grass, bark fibers, animal hair. Sometimes works in debris such as rags, paper, barbed wire.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Mostly permanent resident. Some may withdraw in fall from northern part of range, but status in this area is poorly known. Flocks move around in winter, gathering in good feeding areas.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Mostly permanent resident. Some may withdraw in fall from northern part of range, but status in this area is poorly known. Flocks move around in winter, gathering in good feeding areas.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Harsh kraak, higher pitched than Common Raven's.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds