5 Fascinating Facts About Ravens
The dark, mysterious raven has been depicted in literature and legends through the ages. Learn more about this fascinating and intelligent creature!
The dark, mysterious raven has been depicted in literature and legends through the ages. In some parts of the world, the raven is a sign of death or misfortune; to others its presence indicates good fortune. We shed some light on this mystifying creature and reveal some facts you may not have known.
5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ravens
1. Ravens are playful creatures
Ravens are acrobats in the sky. They surf updrafts, fly upside down and even turn somersaults, just because they can. Young ravens have been seen playing a fun game of catch by dropping sticks while in flight and then quickly swooping to catch it before it hits the ground.
2. Ravens can talk and sing
They have a vast repertoire of 100 or more vocalizations. With their deep voice, ravens can mimic human speech and singing and can imitate other bird sounds. They call to inform their mate to join them when food is found.
2. Ravens are clever and intelligent
These clever and cunning birds often work as a pair to acquire food. One raven will lure a parent bird away from its nest, while the other swoops in to feed on the eggs or hatchlings. Ravens have been known to call and lead wolves to a carcass to tear through the tough animal hide, so it can easily dine on the soft innards. These smart birds have been known to pull an ice fisherman’s line up from the icy waters and dine on the caught fish.
4. Ravens eat anything they want
Being omnivores, ravens generally eat anything available. Ravens will dine on roadkill, or hunt their own prey for dinner. They also eat insects, eggs, seeds and berries, and even dung. These intelligent birds are known to store extra food away in secret hiding places for later. If a raven senses that another raven is watching where it is about to hide food, it will pretend to stash the food in one place, but will actually hide it in a different spot.
5. The Raven in Legend, Literature, and Lore
The raven has been symbolically depicted in literature and legends throughout history in cultures around the world. In the famous poem, The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe refers to the raven that taps on the narrator’s chamber door on a dark December night as a “grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore.” The bird’s ability to speak is revealed throughout the poem as the raven says “nevermore.” The raven’s appearance at midnight symbolizes death and a painful reminder of the lonely and sorrowful state of the narrator.
Did You Know…
The raven is a symbolic figure in numerous Native American legends. In some indigenous groups, tales portray the raven as being mischievous and an evil omen. In the Pacific Northwest, Native American mythology depicts the raven in a positive light, as being the creator of the world.
What’s the Difference Between Ravens and Crows?
Although both are members of the “Corvus” genus, and can be found throughout North America and other parts of the world, there are notable differences between ravens and crows:
- Ravens are larger, about the size of a red-tailed hawk. Crows are similar in size to a dove.
- Ravens have longer middle tail feathers. When extended for flight, the tail feathers appear to be wedge-shaped. A crow’s tail feathers are all the same length, and tail feathers appear fan-shaped.
- Ravens have larger, thicker, curved beaks.
- They’re entirely black, from head to toe. Including their beaks.
- Ravens are often seen alone or in pairs, while crows often fly and feed in a group, referred to as a murder.
- Unlike crows with their distinctive cawing sound, the raven’s call is a deep, croaking sound. Listen to the raven’s call here.
- The raven’s lifespan is between 25 and 30 years, but they have been known to live up to 45 years. Crows usually live to 8 years, but can live longer when raised in captivity.
Ravens have been kept at the site of the Tower of London for centuries to bring it good luck and to prevent disaster. The appointed Ravenmaster, at the expense of the British government, hand rears young raven fledglings: feeding, caring and taming them. He clips one of its wings to keep the ravens from flying away from the tower site.
In several passages of The Bible, ravens were specifically noted to perform important tasks. In the book of Genesis, Noah first sent a raven from the ark to determine if the floodwaters had receded. In the book of I Kings, ravens were commanded by God to bring bread and meat to the prophet Elijah twice a day during a time of drought.
All these things point to one fact, the raven is truly a remarkable bird.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.
Plenty of crows here in the southern half of Georgia but I’m not sure about ravens.
We just moved to our place near Yosemite in CA. We have Ravens that fly around & we started feeding them. We give them boneless chicken, a chicken egg & fresh raw meatballs. We place on a rock & he/she comes around 11am each morning and takes the food; sometimes eats a bit & other times taking it to the nest? The raven does a hoppy dance thing before taking the food & we wonder why…also if other predators come we chase them away so they don’t take the food first. If we put it out late, we see the raven flying about, seemingly waiting for brunch! Anyway, we love our raven; maybe someday we will be gifted.
I have a pair of ravens that are sleeping in my barn. I believe it is a convenient and close for them to steal the duck eggs from the pond area and feed on the horse manure. Not sure whether I want them there or not. Every now and again I will lose a duck too, not sure whether the ravens are the killers or the resident eagle…………. but the ravens are the ones that get caught ravaging the carcass. Any suggestions.
I found a injured young raven in July of 2019. He couldn’t fly..not sure if it was his wing or rib that was messed up..i was at a busy casino. I had given him ice and some cracker pieces. He was breathing hard and panting. I debated for several hours..not wanting to mess with nature. but asked him if he wanted to come.with me. My husband was tired of it. Grabbed a box and put him in it. I raise peacocks about 44 of them. Blues, whites, pied, green. Some are free range. I have learned the whites do not well free because the other birds beat them up and pick on them. So i bring the raven home, put him in a standard peacock coop..(which he hates)(he is terrified..every time I come near it he almost wounds himself in the chicken wire to get away. I opened the door to his pen about 5 months later when I saw him fly inside the pen. He stayed around as a free bird.I would say “where is my raven?” When i fed my peacocks and he would come walking…trying to fit in…while being shooed away by other birds. He became more confident and pushed his way through the pecking order..One day 2.more ravens showed up…I am assuming these are females. I had a wounded expensive white female pied peahen in a coop. She had a heat lamp and i gave her extra attention and made sure she ate every day..I have a bunch of animals, 3 kids and own a shop so I am usually in a hurry. My son called me one day and told me she had died. I asked how and he said he thought the cats did it. I thought very strange and when i came home looked at hours of footage on the security cameras. I couldn’t believe it but saw the raven find an open slot in her coop and slaughter her for about 45 minutes. Peacocks are pretty large birds..The other day when I went to feed, i found my favorite male pied peacock Bruce slaughtered and licked clean.I am blown away..this also happened in a blind spot so the camera didn’t catch anything. I think it was the OTHER raven and not my raven but we cannot do this anymore. Peacocks are easy, beautiful, mild tempered creatures. I can’t let anything terrorize and kill them. Has anyone ever heard of a raven killing a bird as large as a peacock?
Hi Leah, wow, such a sad story. Here you were trying to something nice and it didn’t turn out well. We haven’t heard of this behavior, but perhaps a specialist might know. It’s always wise to call Animal Control if you find an injured wild animal. You just never know.
For anyone reading this take heed, if you find a wounded wild animal – best to take it to a vet, unless it’s too dangerous to do so.
We recommend that if you find wounded wildlife, do not attempt to transport it, but to call wildlife officials, which can be connected through your local police.
The sad problem is by doing that your dooming most wild animals to a death sentence. That includes baby Deer, Raccoons or most any other kind of wild animal. Thankfully here in Arkansas, there are no laws that I’m aware of regarding us taking care of wild life, unless it’s taking care of baby Deer now, due to the wasting disease. 🙁 I have had good success with many types of wild animals over many years and love when they are well enough to release. 🙂 I’m a nurturer and feel blessed with each experience. <3 If you can do this, you may save the life of your wild thing….. Find a REHAB-ER!!!! They are often trained, and LOVE caring for wild things to release back into the wild. They try hard to save everything given to them. Wild life officials seem to me not to have the time to give to most injured wild things and like I said, if you call them…. Most times the animals are killed. That includes Raccoons and Possums. I am on a Raccoon page, A Possum Page, A Spider page and a Snake Page. Each of these Rehabbers, LOVE their babies as much as you love your Cats or Dogs. 🙂 <3
we lost our peacock to a mink, the biggest thing our local ravens have killed is a small duck.
Come to Interior Alaska. We have ravens and finches year round and jays in May-July all through the towns. They are everywhere.
Well written article. From experience, I believe #3 and #4 feed another trait I see ravens do a lot, and that is curiosity worse than a cat. Starting a couple of years ago, there was this larger older raven that will sit on the poles and trees around my house, hold raven-to-human conversations with me, my wife, my neighbors, come down to see what we’re doing inside our houses, and even went in my neighbor’s entry way.
Love this…. 🙂
I am fascinated with this bird but would love for someone to tell me is it good luck or bad luck God knows I dont need anymore bad…..I wanted to get a car decal with the bird and the word “Nevermore”
Hi Margaret, we found some information for you on raven symbolism: https://corbiemitleid.com/divination/spirit-guides/are-ravens-good-omens-or-bad-omens/
I never knew that ravens can be used as pets
I always thought ravens never existed but a friend showed me a picture i just thought …. pure evil animal…. but this shed much light on a amazing bird.
If you have problems with pest birds such as ravens go see island falconry online its such a good experience!
I have had what had what I thought were crows in my yard, making lots of noise. They call out when me and my dog are walking. I talk back to them now. But this description that I just read is telling me that what I have been seeing are Ravens. Awesome. Are they good or bad luck? I hope good. I enjoy them around my house and neighborhood. We do have the smaller black birds, cawing. So those are the crows?
I have enjoyed reading your article. It has been helpful. Thank you, Patricia
A Ravens Beak is Black, while the Crows beak is yellow.
I noticed when I lived in Alabama that their beaks and feet yellow, and was always told they were crows, yet here in California their beaks and feet are black and that they are Ravens ?
We have Ravens all around us in the High Desert of Southern CA. and I have been attacked by a Raven while doing physical therapy in my swimming pool well to protect myself I had to use my noodle to defend myself and he got a wing broken and I got out of the pool and went to get my husband and he chased it out of the yard and in mean time his family was yelling at us and flying over our yard not happy and I am terrified of Ravens now. They are evil
As a child my brothers shot a mama raven. My dad was duly upset with them. He made them climb the tree and take the babies home to care for as if they were mama. One of the chicks decided to stay with us as none of them were ever caged on our little ranch. Pete as he was called was truly an adventure. Thank you for your article.
As a child my brothers shot a mama raven. My dad was duly upset with them he made them climb the tree and take the babies home to care for as their mama. One of the chicks decided to stay with us as none of them were ever caged on our little ranch. Pete as he was called was truly an adventure. Thank you for your article.
Loved your article;thank you!
Walking to work one morning a crow dropped a pink quartz cross at my feet.I noticed them after that.
That’s pretty cool. I read an article recently about ravens/crows leaving gifts for people. After a quick ask.com search I found that they may do this to give thanks for feeding them. I think the symbolism is in line with some spiritual meaning. There are a couple of interpretations of the spiritual meanings of crows and ravens. And I know that rose/rose quartz is a healing stone. Relationships, love etc. Whatever speaks to you! Still very cool!
That’s so Raven!
Sorry. I’m immature.
Have found ravens to be fascinating in their actions and beautiful to look at when they walk so stately and the sun shines on their glossy black feathers. For several years I placed food scraps out on top of our sand mound for them so I could watch from my kitchen window as they devoured all that I put out for them. I can no longer do that due to physical limitations at age 90. During that time, when I would get in my car to go somewhere, they signaled each other with calls, and again when I returned, I could hear them doing so again, apparently anticipating the scraps I would be placing for them! There was a pair for several years, and then a third one joined them. I think it was one of their babies. I loved them and thought of them as a special gift. I see them occasionally now but they don’t land where I can see them walking which I so enjoyed.
Thank you, I love reading your article.
Another appearance of the Raven in myth comes from the Norse: the principal diety, Odin, has two ravens, Hugin and Munin, thought and memory, which fly through the world each day and come back in the evening to tell Odin all that they saw.
Excellent. Thank you very much. I’ve always been fascinated by both crows and ravens.