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Crows and ravens are large black birds found throughout North America, and they can be hard to tell apart. The best clue for identification is usually the voice, but the species differ in some other subtle ways, too. This page will help you recognize the differences among these often confusing birds.

Crows and Ravens: By Sight

Click on each species name to go to its in-depth identification page in our All About Birds species guide.

American Crow


american crowWidespread across North America. Bill size: moderate; Length: 20"; Wingspan: 36"
american crow flight silhouetteIn flight: Rounded tail; 5 broad feather "fingers"

Fish Crow

fish crowEast Coast and southeastern U.S. Bill size: moderate; Length: 16"; Wingspan 33"
fish crow flight silhouetteIn flight: rounded tail; 4 broad feather "fingers"

Common Raven

common ravenWestern North America, Northeast, and mountains. Bill size: very large; Length: 27"; Wingspan 46"
common raven flight silhouetteIn flight: diamond-shaped tail; 4 long, thin feather "fingers"

Chihuahuan Raven

Chihuahuan RavenSouthwestern U.S. and Mexico. Bill size: large; Length: 20"; Wingspan 42"
Chihuahuan Raven flight silhouetteIn flight: diamond-shaped tail; 4 broad feather "fingers"

Crows and Ravens: By Sound

One of the best ways to tell crows and ravens apart is by their calls. Here are some expert tips on the sounds they make, and what those sounds mean.

Practice by listening to the sounds of each species:

American Crows have a strong, harsh caw.

Fish Crows make a weaker, more nasal, and often 2-noted caw.

Common Ravens make a deep, throaty croak.

Chihuahuan Ravens make a deep kraaa sound.

Recordings © Macaulay Library/Cornell Lab. ML Catalog numbers: ML 135405, ML 105353, ML 50118; ML 135405, ML 105362, ML 26627; ML 57682, ML 57680, ML 57683; ML 132203, ML 120413. Recordists: Michael J. Andersen, William W.H. Gunn, Geoffery A. Keller.


  • Matthew Heyns

    Are black birds specific or the general common distinction?