Ravens are the largest passerine (perching) birds in the world, with wingspans up to almost five feet: significantly bigger than their close relative, the crow. Ravens can weight up to two-and-a-half pounds. They tend to have thicker beaks than crows, and you can also spot the difference by looking at the tail shape when they fly.
When the ravens are in direct sunlight, look for an iridescent bluish-green sheen, which comes from microscopic barbules on their feathers.
Other corvids in our area include crows, magpies, and jays.
Ravens in this ecosystem
The ravens in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem are more closely related to ravens in England (and the rest of the world) than they are to the California ravens, even though they look basically the same.
In this ecosystem, our vultures are migratory, leaving a clean-up job to be done during their absence in the winter. Ravens, along with some other birds like eagles and magpies, fill that void, acting as scavengers.
Ravens are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and can’t be kept as pets without special permits.
Ravens are omnivores. In the wild, they will eat carrion, small animals, birds, insects, maggots, grain, and dung. They hide food in caches, often burying it, sometimes using tools like sticks. They’ll also make fake caches to fool the other ravens and keep their real cache hidden.
At the Sanctuary, we feed our ravens a mix of meats, fruits, vegetables, and kibble.
BEHAVIOR & Lifespan
Ravens have a variety of vocalizations, including a deep croak. They are good at imitating sounds, including the sounds of other animals. Captive-raised ravens can imitate people as well as parrots can.
In the wild, ravens have a life expectancy of around 10-15 years; in captivity they can live more than 40 years.