Hinterland Who’s Who
The Canadian subspecies of the Common Raven is Corvus corax
principalis, or Northern Raven
Common Ravens are some of the world’s most cosmopolitan birds! Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, they’re habitat generalists. They can live comfortably in forests of all types, grasslands, mountains, coastlines, deserts and even the Arctic tundra! Ravens don’t even mind sharing our towns and cities! You can observe ravens almost anywhere in Canada, except in parts of the Prairies.
Size and colour
Ravens are large, black birds which are often confused with crows. The easiest way to distinguish the Raven from a crow is by its larger size. Ravens can have a wingspan (the measure between the tips of the wings) of a metre and a half, while a crow’s is under a metre. Also, the raven has a wedge-shaped tail when spread, while the crow has a fan-shaped tail. If you observe them up close, you may notice that the raven has a much thicker bill and a ruff of throat feathers sticking out called “hackles”.
Ravens will eat just about anything they can find; from plant matter and invertebrates to eggs and other animals. They even scavenge carrion, or dead animals! They often search for food in pairs but will also work with other creatures to gain access to food. By calling in wolves, a tough animal carcass will be opened up for the ravens to dine too.
How is it Doing?
Ravens have been considered really important by Indigenous Peoples in Canada, who appreciated how mischievous, curious and smart these birds are. But when Europeans came to North America, they brought along their fear and superstitions about this bird. In some areas, ravens were wiped out by humans who believed the birds were preying on farm animals and destroying crops. They were also affected by the destruction of natural areas. Now, though, this incredibly brilliant and adaptable bird has made a healthy comeback and populations are thriving across the country.
What You Can Do
If you see a raven or any wild animal living in the cities, keep your distance and do not feed them! Even if we share our space, it’s important to keep our wildlife as wild as possible! Also, other people might think that ravens are creepy. Tell them how incredibly smart these birds are, and encourage them to learn more about them!
What the Canadian Wildlife Federation is Doing
CWF has done many projects to help urban wildlife, like the Common Raven. Teaching folks about our wild neighbours is super important so that we can live alongside each other!