Common Raven

Common Raven

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Passeriformes Corvidae Corvus Corvus corax

Common Raven

When Edgar Allan Poe chose the raven to croak “nevermore” in his famous poem rather than another bird, he did it skillfully. Many literary works and legends feature ravens; some claim they are omens of death or misfortune.

Although most people don’t realize it, the enigmatic common raven is one of the most fascinating birds.

Common Raven Physical Appearance: Theory on Skin Color

Massive birds with thick necks and recognizable shaggy throat feathers are ravens.

1 Common Raven Physical Appearance

  • Ravens have long bills and strong, large feet like other corvids. Typically, ravens are entirely black. Ravens resemble common crows the most, but they soar in flight more like hawks. Their thin wings and wedge-shaped tail are two additional characteristics that set them apart from crows.
  • The most prevalent pigments in birds, melanins, are crucial to the coloration of feathers, skin, and eyes. They are primarily made up of eumelanin and phaeomelanin, which differ in color, chemical makeup, and pigment granule structure[1] (Fox & Vevers, 1960).
  • While phaeomelanin only occurs in feathers and determines colors ranging from deep reddish brown to pale buff, eumelanin produces black, grey, and brown feathers and the color of the eyes and skin.
  • Only eumelanin is present in all Raven/Corvus species; for ease of use, it will be referred to as melanin[2] (British Ornithologists Club Bulletin, 2014).

Ravens are very intelligent animals

2 Ravens Are Very Intelligent Animals

Ravens are highly intelligent creatures that can rip open objects with their beaks to help them find food and shelter.

Ravens make great hunters!

Ravens make great hunters.

Ravens frequently hunt in packs and have been observed to capture and kill prey twice their size. They will also conceal their food from other predators, including ravens. In fact, they frequently “pretend” to hide food when another raven is watching, only to move the food cache when nobody is looking!

A group of ravens is called an “unkindness“.

Raven unkindness

There are many names for a group of ravens, such as conspiracy, storytelling, and unkindness.

  • A raven will leave the unkindness to pair off once it has found its mate. Folklore holds that seeing a lone raven heralds good fortune.
  • If a raven appears to you, it might be a sign that the solution you’re looking for is on the way.
  • Ravens have been known to sense when people need guidance. While some view the sighting of ravens as a sign of death and bad luck, others see it as a chance for rebirth and a fresh start.

Ravens can mimic human speech

Ravens can mimic human speech

Ravens can learn to communicate better in captivity than parrots.

  • They imitate other sounds, such as car engines, flushing toilets, and animal and bird calls.
  • To draw wolves or foxes to carcasses they cannot open, ravens have been known to mimic those animals. For example, the leftovers from the wolf’s meal are given to the raven.

Ravens do possess special memory.

Ravens do possess special memory

The fact that ravens possess “episodic memory“, a trait shared by humans and other primates, is arguably one of the most amazing and unsettling facts about ravens. This enables them to recall human faces and other details, particularly when connected to an emotion or event.

Other Black Birds

Suggested Reading: More Black Birds

Cite This Page

APA7MLA8Chicago (2024, April 12). Common Raven. Bio Explorer. "Common Raven" Bio Explorer, 12 April 2024, "Common Raven" Bio Explorer, April 12 2024.
Key References
  • [1]“BOC Bulletin – British Ornithologists’ Club”. Accessed June 02, 2023. Link.
  • [2]“Common raven | Smithsonian’s National Zoo”. Accessed June 02, 2023. Link.


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