Here’s the difference between ravens and crows
|One way to distinguish ravens from crows is by their wedge-shaped tail feathers, although you may not notice them until they fly overhead. Photos by Jordan Clary|
April 24, 2012 — We see them all over the county with their shimmering black wings and sturdy beaks that look like obsidian arrowheads.
Most of us probably overlook them as too ordinary to even take notice of, but ravens are extremely versatile birds that have coexisted with humans for thousands of years.
Although they are often confused with crows, the two birds are different species, but they do come from the same genus.
Both crows and ravens are common in Lassen County.
Tom Rickman, a wildlife biologist on the Eagle Lake Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest said, “Crows are smaller and slighter, and the end of their tail is essentially straight. Ravens are larger, more robust, with larger bills and a tail that is wedge-shaped.” However, he noted that we might not notice the tail feathers unless they fly overhead.
|Ravens are a common sight all over Lassen County.|
Another way to distinguish ravens from crows is by their calls. Rickman said, “Ravens have a variety of calls. They croak and rattle, while crows have the classic caw-caw sound.”
Crows tend to be seen more frequently in town, while ravens like to gather farther afield. However, in winter, ravens may congregate in town, especially along the peripheries.
Ravens are a frequent sight around the Susanville Indian Rancheria and Lassen Community College where one was sighted tearing into a loaf of bread on top of a pickup truck. Ravens tend to be more solitary than crows and are believed to mate for life.
|Ravens generally travel alone or in pairs and are believed to mate for life.|
During spring mating, they may be seen soaring and diving in a graceful dance through the sky.
Rickman said, “Crows are likely the only ones to nest in town. I’m pretty sure they nest along the Susan River and in the parks. If you look now before the trees leaf out, you can likely see some nests.”
Ravens are great opportunists. “Ravens are those you see flying over the highways, looking for road kills,” said Rickman.
He mentioned a raven that befriended a highway worker on Highway 44. She worked doing traffic control in a similar location for several years and a raven that learned to take food from her, revisited each year.
From Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven,” to Native American mythology, ravens have held a prominent place in art and literature. In Bhutan they are revered as a spiritual figure and have the honor of that country’s national bird.
So next time you see a raven, stop a moment to appreciate this highly intelligent bird for its adaptability, grace and amazing survival skills.
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