Crows and ravens can appear to be very similar, making it a challenge for some to know the difference between the two birds. Both birds are completely black and both species are commonly found across North America.
Here are some ways you can determine the difference between the common raven (Corvus corax) and the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Clues for telling the difference between a crow and a raven can be found by comparing the size of the bird, shape of the tail feathers, the smoothness of the bird’s neck, bird sounds, and how the birds socialize.
Size: Raven Versus Crows
Ravens are about 2 1/2 times the size of crows. The raven has about a 3.5 to 4 feet wingspan and is around 24-27 inches from head to tail. The crow is smaller, with a 2.5 feet wingspan and a length of about 17 inches.
Tail Feathers: Raven Versus Crows
The tail feathers of a raven are wedged shaped. Crows, in contrast, have a fan-shaped tail.
Presence of Hackles
The ruff of feathers on the front a raven just below its neck are called hackles.
Crows have a smooth front.
Crows make a sound that sounds like “caw” and purr. Ravens sound more frog-like with a croaky call.
Crows are well adapted to living in highly developed areas. It’s very common to find crows living near people. Ravens, in contrast, are very rare in populated areas.
Crows tend to form large groups while ravens tend to form pairs. In fact, living as a group, known as and “unkindness” or “conspiracy,” has actually been found to increase stress levels in ravens. A group of crows is known as a murder.