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Raven

Common Raven Raven Both Sexes
Glossy black plumage. Shaggy throat feathers.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Corvus corax
Length: 64 cm (25")
Wing Span: 120-150 cm (47-59")
Weight: 0.8-1.5 kg (1¾-3¼ lb)
Breeding Pairs: 7 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Raven is our largest crow and is about the same size as a Buzzard or about half as big again as Carrion Crows and Rooks.

Ravens have thick necks with a beard of shaggy throat feathers, which is particularly evident when calling, and a very powerful looking stout bill. On closer inspection the black feathers have a purplish sheen. The bill and legs are black.

Juveniles are like the adults but browner and have paler eyes.

In flight, the tail is diamond-shaped, and the wing beat is very slow and purposeful. Despite their size they are remarkably agile and perform allsorts of aerobatic tumbles, dives and even flip upside down, especially in the springtime.

Voice

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The Raven's call is a very deep croaking, "kronk kronk kronk", which once heard and identified will be easily remembered.

Feeding

The Raven is a ground feeder, feeding on a diverse diet that includes: carrion, mammals, birds and their eggs and insects. Like many of the crows, they store food when it is in ample supply in readiness for leaner times.

Nesting

Raven breed in the mountainous regions, on the coast and in forests. The nest is usually on a sheltered ledge or in the fork of a tree, and is built by both birds from large twigs, earth, and moss. The cup is lined with grass, moss, wool and hair.

The eggs are glossy, light blue with irregular dark brown markings. The female alone incubates the eggs, but the male brings her food. After fledging, the young birds remain dependent on their parents for 3 to 4 weeks but they often stay together for much longer.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
February 1 3-7 20 c. 35-49

Movements

British Ravens are sedentary though juveniles disperse in their first autumn or winter; the distances are typically 30 km (20 miles), but some may travel hundreds of kilometres (miles).

Conservation

In the past Ravens were persecuted by farmers and gamekeepers, and then more recently they have suffered from the effects of pesticides. Their population is declining severely in Scotland and the increases in England, Wales and Ireland do not compensate for these losses.

My Garden

While Raven has not been seen in or around the garden, I have seen one flying over my local patch, which is evidence of their slow but progressive spread eastwards; there are at least half a dozen pairs breeding to the west of Sheffield in the eastern Peak District.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2015.
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