Skip to main content

Similar Species: Crows and Ravens

Montage of 2 images: two black birds with strong-looking beaks, facing each other.
American Crow: (left) by Ian Routley/Macaulay Library, Common Raven by Kyle Lima.

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

Fish Crow

Common Raven

Chihuahuan Raven

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 all from Macaulay Library/Cornell Lab:
American Crow: Mike Anderson, Geoffrey A. Keller, Geoffrey A. Keller
Fish Crow: Geoffrey A. Keller, Oliver H. Hewitt
Chihuahuan Raven: William W. H. Gunn, William W. H. Gunn, William W. H. Gunn
Common Raven: Mike Anderson, Geoffrey A. Keller

The Cornell Lab

All About Birds
is a free resource

Available for everyone,
funded by donors like you

American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library