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Raven Asks Human for Help with Painful Quills After Porcupine Attack

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Amazing that ravens are so smart, and that this one was clever enough to seek out human help.

That raven is almost human-like...

Ravens, good; crows BAD! 

Last year I had the opportunity to rescue a hawk out of the batting cages at my kid's practice field.  I had to chase it back and forth about 30 times before it finally just got so tired that I used the bat bag and grabbed it by both its feet and finally took it out of the cage where it flew away.  Like Pi Patel, after rescuing him, he flew away so......unceremoniously.  I was certain he was going to look back, arch his wings and shriek, but he just flew off into the hills.  

Great story! Kudos for helping it out of the batting cage, I'm sure it was embarrassed about having to need help in the first place...

So how can I tell the difference between a raven and a crow?

They're technically in the same family! What people think of as crows are probably the smaller blackbirds, and ravens are the large black birds with that predatory beak.

So the predatory big birds are the good ones and the cute tiny birds are the bad ones?

Casting against type!

I think ravens typically fly around alone, though when seen together they are called an "unkindness of ravens".  It's called a "murder of crows" though.  The murder of crows at my parents house did nothing but that.  They would raid every single bird's nest they could get their beaks into and crack the eggs and eat them, crack the baby birds in the eggs and eat them, pull the baby birds out of the next and eat them and anything else they could gang up on.  They even tried to gang up on a massive barn owl one time, which was completely unphased.

@liz, thanks, I was scared the whole time it was going to swoop and try to claw my (or my kids') eyes.  I guess I've watched too many movies!

So when crows are planning to get together it's literally called planning a murder???

Here's more disambiguation: What is the difference between a crow and a raven?

Crows and ravens, although in the same genus (Corvus) are different birds. (Think of leopards and tigers; both are in the genus Panthera, and are obviously related, but they are quite distinct animals.) The words "crow" and "raven" themselves have little or no real taxonomic meaning. That is, the Australian "ravens" are more closely related to the Australian "crows" than they are to the Common Raven (Corvus corax). In general, the biggest black species, usually with shaggy throat feathers, are called ravens and the smaller species are considered crows.

Common Ravens can be told from American Crows by a couple of things. The size difference, which is huge, is only useful with something else around to compare them with. Ravens are as big as Red-tailed Hawks, and crows are, well, crow sized. The wedge-shaped tail of the raven is a good character, if you can see it well. Crows sometimes show an apparent wedge shape to the tail, but almost never when it is fanned as the bird soars or banks (except for a brief time during molt in the summer).

More subtle characters include: ravens soar more than crows. If you see a "crow" soaring for more than a few seconds, check it a second time. Crows never do the somersault in flight that Common Ravens often do. Ravens are longer necked in flight than crows. The larger bill of the raven can be seen in flight, but it is actually less apparent than the long neck. Raven wings are shaped differently than are crow wings, with longer primaries ("fingers") with more slotting between them. As my neighbor said, "Ravens are the ones whose wings you can see through." The longer primaries make the wings look more bent at the wrist than a crow as the bird flies, and the "hand" portion can look nearly pointed.

If seen perched in a good look, the huge bill and shaggy throat of a raven are diagnostic. The upper and lower edges of the bill are parallel for most of their length (3/4?) in ravens, while in crows the downward curve starts somewhere around 2/3 of the way out for males, and about halfway for females.

But remember, ravens are pretty uncommon around here [Ithaca, NY]. If you see a "really big crow!", chances are good that it really is a crow. Yes, there are large crows and small ones, but you couldn't ever tell which was which. Any difference in size (380g - 660g is the weight range around here; 800 - 950 mm wingspan) among individuals is not detectable, in that the range of appearance of a single crow (by fluffing or sleeking its feathers) is greater.

American Crows make the familiar "caw-caw," but also have a large repertoire of rattles, clicks, and even clear bell-like notes. However, they never give anything resembling the most common calls of Common Ravens. The most familiar call of a raven is a deep, reverberating croaking or "gronk-gronk." Only occasionally will a raven make a call similar to a crow's "caw" but even then it is so deep as to be fairly easily distinguished from a real crow. Ravens also make a huge variety of different notes. It has been said (attributed to native Americans) that if you hear something in the forest that you cannot identify (assuming you know all the common forest sounds), it is a raven. (

Wow. Thank you Liz!

No problem, Adam! I'm sure the birds themselves have ways to distinguish amongst each other, maybe it's with their plumage giving off a color we can't see? They say birds of a feather flock together, but it'd be hard to be a crow/raven!

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