Raven vs Crow: How to Tell the Difference

It's easier than you think to tell the difference between a raven vs a crow. Follow these tips for differentiating these clever cousins in the corvid family.

Raven vs Crow

Bird identification can be a challenge, especially when the species look similar to each other like ravens and crows. Both of these birds are large with black feathers and black beaks, but there are several ways to tell the difference between a raven vs a crow.

raven vs crowMarcin Perkowski/Shutterstock
Common raven

How to Identify a Common Raven

  • Large beaks help ravens pick meat off carrion.
  • Common ravens have shaggy throat feathers and thick, long necks.
  • With wingspans of over a meter, ravens are much larger than crows.
  • A slightly pointed tail is one of the most reliable ID marks.
  • Common ravens are typically found only in the North, Northeast and Western United States, but their range is expanding.
  • Ravens tend to travel solo or with a partner.
  • Listen for the raven’s low grumbling sound.

Check out 9 fascinating facts about common ravens.

ravens at grand canyonCourtesy Jacqueline Fanion / Country magazine

“I took this photo at the Grand Canyon West Rim in November 2019. It was a beautiful clear day. After I ate lunch I was gazing over the canyon and saw this picturesque trio of ravens. I could not resist taking this photo,” says Jacqueline Fanion.

Learn which species are America’s smartest birds.

Shutterstock 45320206, raven vs crowAl Mueller/Shutterstock
American crow

How to Identify an American Crow

  • A multipurpose beak allows crows to eat nuts, berries, insects and occasionally small animals.
  • Crows weigh a little over a pound, a fraction of a raven’s weight.
  • Look for a fan-shaped tail when a crow flies overhead.
  • Range can help you identify a raven vs a crow. American crows live in most states. If you’re in the Great Plains, Midwest or Southeast, the big black bird you see is probably a crow.
  • Crows tend to flock in larger groups.
  • Crows make a high-pitched caw sound.

Is this white bird an albino crow?

Crow in FlightBrianEKushner/Getty Images
American crow in flight

Next, discover 10 interesting facts about red winged blackbirds.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys growing vegetables in containers and raised beds and watching for birds in her backyard.