Ravens are the largest member of the Corvid (crow) family and substantially bigger than the crow, which is the second largest. The raven is also the world’s largest perching bird. Their considerable size, black feathers and powerful beak lend ravens a somewhat sinister appearance and they frequently feature in folklore and literature. In some cultures ravens are seen as a harbinger of death. In fact ravens are highly intelligent birds with a playful and mischievous nature, and the ability to feel empathy with each other. They mate for life.
Adaptable ravens can be found in a variety of habitats and they eat most things including carrion. Long before sanitation ravens were found in large towns and cities, scavenging on dead animals, butchers’ waste and the detritus of human life found in the street. Once widespread, ravens were driven to the west and north of Britain, persecuted by gamekeepers and farmers. Following many years of legal protection ravens are now spreading eastwards to inhabit former haunts.
Ravens are very communicative. More than 30 different vocalisations have been recorded, and in human care, they can mimic simple sounds–even human speech. They have a deep voice that they use to communicate through croaking “wonk-wonk” sounds.
Ravens are highly intelligent animals and can use their beaks to rip objects open, helping them find both food and shelter. They have been known to use tools to obtain food and aid in defending their territories. Ravens and other corvid species are the subject of multiple cognitive research studies focusing on their ability to learn and use tools.
North America, Eurasia, North Africa
Forests, open plains
Grains, berries, fruits, carrion, small insects, reptiles and birds