Crows vs Ravens: 5 Main Differences Explained

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: July 5, 2021


Crows and ravens are often confused with each other. In a comparison of them, there are enough similarities in physical features and terminology to believe they are interchangeable. But there are differences in their behavior and specific body parts, which you can only recognize through observation even from a distance. Each bird also inhabits different areas and has its own symbolism in various mythologies.

They are in fact two different species of the genus Corvus, making them both corvids. Although the comparison is generally true between all crows and ravens, for the sake of simplicity, the differences will be mainly between the common raven and the American crow. Let’s make an in-depth comparison below!

Comparing Crows vs Ravens

CrowsRavens
SizeThe size of a rock pigeonThe size of a red-tailed hawk
AppearanceSmaller, straighter beak, blunt, fan-shaped tail, splayed wingsLarger, curved beak, wedge-shaped tail, and pointed wings, shiny feathers
HabitatUrban areasWilder, rural areas
DietMice, nestlings, eggs, frogs, earthworms, mollusks, seeds, fruits, and nutsCarrion, garbage and small invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals
IntelligenceClever; intelligence of 7-10-year-old child; can use tools and remember facesPlayful and cunning; can do as well as on intelligence tests as crows if not better; can make future plans for food and trade for it
SymbolismDeath and war symbolism (Irish); ancestral (Australian); protector of Dharma (Buddhism); trickster spirit (indigenous)Deity (indigenous); the symbolism of omens or deity incarnation (Irish)
Group behaviorA group of 3 or more, called a murderSolitary or in pairs
SpeciesA species of the genus CorvusA type species of the genus Corvus
Lifespan7-8 years10-30 years
CallCawGronk or croaking sound

The 5 Key Differences Between Crows vs Ravens

  • Appearance: In a comparison of size, crows are generally smaller than ravens. However, there are large crows and small ravens. Hence, the best way to distinguish the two is by looking at the appearance of their beaks, wings and tails. Crows have a purple or green tint on blunt, splayed wings, while ravens have shiny feathers with blue or purple-tinted or grey and brown-tinted, pointed wings. Crows have fan-shaped tails and smaller, straighter beaks, whereas ravens have wedge-shaped tails with larger, curved beaks with a tuft of hair on top. When the crow fluffs its feathers, it looks like a mane or ruff and the raven’s feathers look ragged. The raven’s neck also looks longer in flight.
  • Habitat: Crows are more social and inhabit human-populated areas such as cities. Ravens prefer wilder areas and the countryside, where there are fewer people and they are likely to find carrion and small animals to eat, being more scavengers than hunters.
  • Group behavior: Crows tend to socialize in groups, and a group of crows is called a murder. Ravens prefer to be solitary or travel in pairs. Crows help each other raise babies, whereas ravens do not. They are also more likely to form bonds with humans and are a partly migratory species, unlike ravens. Crows can defeat ravens in flocks, although ravens are stronger.
  • Species:Crow” refers to any bird of the genus Corvus which includes crows, ravens, jays and magpies, but it is also a particular species in that genus. “Raven” is the type species of the genus Corvus, having a larger distribution over the Northern Hemisphere than any other corvid species.
  • Call: The crow’s call is a caw-caw sound that usually starts with one loud “caw” followed by several shorter caws. It’s very different than the long gronk or croaking sound of the raven. However, while the raven’s call is deep and guttural, the crow’s call is louder but higher-pitched and nasal.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Ravens as smart as crows?

Ravens do as well as crows on intelligence tests. Birds in the genus Corvus are some of the most intelligent birds in the world, second only to the parrot.

How big is a raven compared to a crow?

Generally, a raven is larger than a crow. In a comparison of the common raven and the American crow, the raven has a weight of 40 ounces with a length of about 21 to 27 inches and a wingspan of 45 to 54 inches, whereas the crow has a weight of 20 ounces with a length of 16 to 21 inches and a wingspan of 30 to 40 inches.

What are 3 crows called?

A murder.

Are Ravens louder than crows?

No, crows are louder than ravens.