Difference between Crow and Raven

Updated on February 24, 2018

They are black, make noise and are around when the scenery is very gloomy; crows and ravens have always been symbols of the Gothic style and birds which are rarely associated with anything happy or optimistic. Even so, ravens seem to have a better reputation than crows. Do you happen to know why that is and what the difference between them is?


American crow

A crow is the generic term with which we refer to a bird which is part of the Corvus genus. They are black birds, known for their cawing voices and their intelligence. The tail is made out of feathers equal in length which looks like a fan when they are spread. They feed on earthworms, insects, garbage, and even chicks they steal from other birds’ nests. They can be found anywhere there is food, especially in cities or towns. They are social birds that live in large flocks and can be real nuisances for inhabited areas on account of the noise they make and the mess they leave behind. Their lifespan is about 8 years.

The intelligence of crows has been tested by scientists for years and the results have left the scientific world in awe. In brief, it seems that crows have memories and can recognize human faces and act on their memories of each of them. They communicate with each other in what scientists even dare to call a language. They can both care for as well as murder another member of their flock. They can plan, adapt and even master tools to get to what they need.

A raven

A raven is another bird of the Corvus genus, but one that is bigger. They seem shinier than other members of the genus and their tails are made out of feathers which are longer in the middle, making them look like a wedge when spread. They travel in pairs as they mate for life and they make croaking sounds. Their lifespan is 40 years.

The common raven is the largest of the raven species. Their diet is omnivorous and they are very versatile in this respect, eating insects, cereals, berries, small animals, garbage and carrion among other things. They are seen as pests as they can affect crops. Ravens are also very intelligent, proving skills of imitation, insight and problem solving. One incredible thing ravens do is that they call wolves to the location of a carcass. Wolves proceed to open the carcass, leaving it accessible to the birds as well.

Crow vs Raven

So what is the difference between a crow and a raven?

Crows and ravens are part of the same Corvus genus. However, ravens are bigger than crows and they feel more comfortable in wilder surroundings, whereas crows are better adapted to living near humans. Both are omnivorous birds and they manage to feed in almost any area, and they are very intelligent birds whose behavior has been the object of study of scientists.

A difference between the two, apart from size, consists in the way in which they socialize and in their mating behavior. Crows live and travel in flocks and only the females are loyal as males can find several mates throughout a lifetime. Ravens start their lives in flocks, but once they mate they remain together and tend to the family. Also, the sounds they make are different and ravens outlive crows by a considerable number of years. Since crows are such nuisances in most cities and towns and ravens tend to keep to less populated areas (even though they do not shy away from the same grounds crows find appealing) ravens tend to be seen as the wilder counterparts of crows.

Comparison Chart

Member of the Corvus genusMember of the Corvus genus
Black, medium sized birdBlack, large bird
Fan-like tail due to the fact that the feathers have the same lengthWedge-like tail due to the fact that the feathers in the middle are longer
Adaptable and highly intelligentAdaptable and highly intelligent
Live in flocksLive in pairs
Urban and suburbanCan live in inhabited areas, but they prefer open, wild areas
Make a cawing soundMake a croaking sound
Only females are loyalMate for life
Lifespan of 8 yearsLifespan of 40 years
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