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.

Here’s why crows chase hawks.

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.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.