Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Common Raven

Corvus corax

Of the birds classified as perching birds or "songbirds," the Common Raven is the largest, the size of a hawk. Often its deep croaking call will alert the observer to a pair of ravens soaring high overhead. An intelligent and remarkably adaptable bird, living as a scavenger and predator, it can survive at all seasons in surroundings as different as hot desert and high Arctic tundra. Once driven from much of its eastern range, the raven is now making a comeback.
Conservation status Ravens disappeared from much of the east and midwest before 1900. In recent decades they have been expanding their range again, especially in the northeast, spreading south into formerly occupied areas.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Boreal and mountain forests, coastal cliffs, tundra, desert. Can live in a very wide array of habitats, from tundra above the Arctic Circle to hot desert areas of the southwest. Often in heavily forested country; may also live on prairies if good nest sites (on cliffs) exist nearby.
Of the birds classified as perching birds or "songbirds," the Common Raven is the largest, the size of a hawk. Often its deep croaking call will alert the observer to a pair of ravens soaring high overhead. An intelligent and remarkably adaptable bird, living as a scavenger and predator, it can survive at all seasons in surroundings as different as hot desert and high Arctic tundra. Once driven from much of its eastern range, the raven is now making a comeback.
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Feeding Behavior

Typically forages in pairs, the two birds sometimes cooperating to flush out prey. Searches for nests, to eat the eggs or young birds. An opportunist, taking advantage of temporary food sources. Does most feeding on the ground. Often feeds as a scavenger, searching for carrion or visiting garbage dumps. In northern Alaska (Pt. Barrow) in winter, seen feeding at dump under artificial lights.


Eggs

4-6, sometimes 3-7. Greenish, blotched with olive or brown. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 18-21 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings, and female broods them while they are small. Young leave nest about 5-6 weeks after hatching.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings, and female broods them while they are small. Young leave nest about 5-6 weeks after hatching.

Diet

Omnivorous. May feed on practically anything, but majority of diet apparently is animal matter. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, and others; also rodents, lizards, frogs, and eggs and young of other birds. Regularly eats carrion and garbage.


Nesting

In courtship display, male soars, swoops, and tumbles in mid-air. Pair may soar high together; when perched, they touch bills, preen each other's feathers. Nest site is usually on ledge of rock cliff, or high in tall tree (especially conifer). May use same site year after year, adding material on top of old nest. Both sexes help build. Nest is a bulky basket of large sticks and twigs, with deep depression in center lined with grass, bark strips, moss, animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Mostly permanent resident, but some wander in fall and winter, appearing south of breeding range.

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Migration

Mostly permanent resident, but some wander in fall and winter, appearing south of breeding range.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Deep, varied, guttural croaking; a hollow wonk-wonk.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Crows, Magpies, Jays Perching Birds

Common Raven

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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