Common Raven

From Academic Kids

This article is about the species Corvus corax. For the German music band Corvus Corax, see Corvus Corax (band).

Common Raven
Missing image

Common Raven at
Bryce Canyon National Park, USA
Scientific classification
Species:C. corax
Binomial name
Corvus corax
Linnaeus, 1758

The Common Raven (Corvus corax) is a large black bird in the crow family, with iridescent feathers. The bill is curved. At maturity, they are between 60 and 78cm (24 to 27 inches) in length, with a wingspan double that.

Apart from its greater size, the Raven differs from its cousins the crows by having a larger and heavier beak, and a deeper and more varied barking prrrukk call note. Other field points are the shaggy throat feathers and a longer, wedge-shaped tail.



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Distribution map

Ravens can thrive in varied climates. They range from the Arctic to the deserts of North Africa, and to islands in the Pacific Ocean, indeed this species has the largest range of any member of the genus. Most Ravens prefer wooded areas (with large open land nearby) or coastal regions and in mountains for their nesting sites and feeding grounds.

Mated Ravens tend to nest together for life. The pair will build a nest on cliff ledges or in trees. The nest is made of whatever materials may have caught the builders' eyes. Ravens are known for their love of shiny objects. The female will lay from three to seven pale bluish-green, brown-blotched eggs. Both parents keep the eggs warm, and take turns feeding the chicks.

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A Raven in Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA.

Ravens have a varied diet. They will eat anything edible, including insects, berries, fruit, other birds' eggs, carrion, and the garbage from human homes. They also kill small birds and mammals, including young rabbits and rats.

Experiments have shown that Ravens are capable of using tools; an experiment, where some desirable item lay on the bottom of a bottle, showed that some ravens were able to form a hook to reach the item.

Like other crows, (corvids), Ravens can copy sounds from their environment, including human speech.

The Common Raven is the official bird of Yukon.

A group of ravens are sometimes collectively referred to as an unkindness or a conspiracy.

Related species

Many large black birds of the genus Corvus are also called ravens. Other birds in the same genus are the smaller crows, jackdaws, and Rook.

Other raven species include:

Image links

Sound link

Ravens in legend and literature

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A raven stands over a mole that it has killed.

Because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, the Raven has long been considered a bird of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends.

The Raven was used as a symbol of rampage by the Vikings, who loved to paint them on their sails. In Norse mythology, the Ravens Hugin and Munin sat on the god Odin's shoulders, and told him the news of the world. The Old English word for a Raven was hraefn; in Old Norse it was hrafn; the word was frequently used in combinations as a kenning for bloodshed and battle.

According to a legend Roman general Marcus Valerius Corvus (c. 370-270 BC), had a Raven settle on his helmet during a combat with a gigantic Gaul, which distracted the enemy's attention by flying in his face.

Natives of northwestern North America consider Raven the Creator of the World.

There is a legend that England will not fall to a foreign invader as long as there are ravens at the Tower of London; the government now maintains several birds on the grounds of the tower, either for insurance or to please tourists (or both).

In some religions, Ravens are considered to be sacred messengers, or the eyes and ears of gods. In ancient Celtic religion ravens were the symbol of the god Brn and were also associated with the war goddess Mrrgan. In the Old Testament, a raven was the first bird sent out by Noah after the flood.

In the Bible, ravens are mentioned on numerous occasions throughout the Old Testament.

  • They are listed among the unclean birds in both Leviticus 11:15 and Deuteronomy 14:14.
  • In Genesis 8:7, Noah releases a raven from the Ark to fly back and forth until the waters of the Flood are dried up.
  • Job ponders who feeds the ravens in Job 38:41.
  • King Solomon is described as having hair as black as a raven in the Song of Songs 5:11.
  • In Isaiah 46:11 (KJV), a "ravenous bird from the east" is called forth to enforce the will of God against Babylon.

William Shakespeare refers to the Raven more often than to any other bird; Othello provides one example. The Raven "Grip" is an important character in Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge. Edgar Allan Poe also used the raven as a supernatural messenger in his poem The Raven. In this and the Dickens book, the bird's power of speech is important. Among other works of literature, Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta and Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene also employ the Raven's darkly ominous image. News-bearing ravens also appear in The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Raven is Hari Seldon's nickname in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. He gets it for his dire predictions of the future. People with long black hair are sometimes poetically referred to as "raven-haired", referring to the coloring, and not to any actual raven's hair.


External links

da:Ravn de:Kolkrabe eo:Korvo fr:Grand corbeau is:Hrafn nl:Raaf (dier) pl:Kruk (ptak) sl:Vrani sv:Korp zh:鸦科


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