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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

Harsh kraak, higher pitched than Common Raven's.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Chihuahuan Raven

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate Threats Near You

Climate threats facing the Chihuahuan Raven

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.