• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Common Raven

Corvus corax ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CORVIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The intriguing Common Raven has accompanied people around the Northern Hemisphere for centuries, following their wagons, sleds, sleighs, and hunting parties in hopes of a quick meal. Ravens are among the smartest of all birds, gaining a reputation for solving ever more complicated problems invented by ever more creative scientists. These big, sooty birds thrive among humans and in the back of beyond, stretching across the sky on easy, flowing wingbeats and filling the empty spaces with an echoing croak.

Merlin Bird ID app
Subscribe to Living Bird Magazine

Calls

Common Ravens make many different kinds of calls varying from a low, gurgling croak to harsh grating sounds and shrill alarm calls. Scientists have placed their vocalizations into as many as 33 different categories based on sound and context. The most commonly heard is the classic gurgling croak, rising in pitch and seeming to come from the back of the throat. It’s much deeper and more musical than a crow’s simple, scratchy caw. Ravens make this call often. It’s audible for more than a mile, and ravens often give it in response to other ravens they hear in the distance. Among their other calls, ravens make short, repeated, shrill calls when chasing predators or trespassers, and deep, rasping calls when their nests are disturbed. Dominant females sometimes make a rapid series of 12 or so loud knocking sounds that lasts about a second. Common Ravens can mimic other birds, and when raised in captivity can even be taught words.

Other Sounds

Displaying males and females snap their beaks audibly. Females performing the rapid knocking call often end it with a bill snap.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

You can attract ravens to your yard by leaving out large amounts of seed, grain, or pet food, or simply by not putting the top securely on your garbage can. These tactics might cause more trouble than they’re worth, though, attracting rodents and other pest animals or luring in ravens that may then raid nests in your yard.

Find This Bird

Look for ravens anywhere from the outskirts of towns (particularly landfills) to foothill forests or scrub, and out to the deep woods of mountains and national parks. If they’re around you’re likely to hear a deep gurgling croak from far overhead: look for a long-tailed black bird flying on long wings and easy, graceful wingbeats. When driving, keep an eye out for them on the roadsides, gathered at roadkill, or flying straight down the center line on the lookout.

Get Involved

Report your Common Raven sightings to eBird

Learn more about bird photography in our Building Skills section. Then contribute your images to the Birdshare flickr site, which helps supply the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's websites with photos, including All About Birds.

You Might Also Like

Ravens in Winter, by Bernd Heinrich

The Accidental Reaper: Ravens are following people into new habitats (California Wild magazine)

Explore sounds and video of Common Ravens from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive

Dinner Guests: Common Ravens may be why wolves hunt in packs. Spring 2012 Living Bird magazine