Northern Raven

Northern Raven Corvus corax The largest passerine and the most widely distributed corvid, the common raven occurs throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Three subspecies are in China: tibetanus on the Tibetan Plateau and beyond to Gansu and western Inner Mongolia, laurencei in Xinjiang, and kamtschaticus in northeastern China. Lives in almost any habitat and can eat almost anything, but in China prefers rugged high country and is best known as a consumer of carrion. Usually in pairs, sometimes in family groups or large flocks. Soars on thermals like a raptor. Large and heavy-billed, with long, pointed wings and a wedge-shaped tail. All-black plumage has metallic green or bluish sheen. Has shaggy feathers on throat (“hackles”). Like the noticeably smaller carrion crow, has smoothly rounded crown. Similar large-billed crow is smaller, has a flatter forehead and therefore a more arched crown, lacks hackles on the throat, and has a more decurved culmen; in flight, raven distinguished from large-billed crow by more wedge-shaped tail and more pronounced “fingers” on primaries. Large repertoire of vocalizations, among them high-pitched caws and deep, resonant croaks and grunts. — Craig Brelsford


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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