The adorable guide to distinguishing American crows and common ravens

Recently, I published what I hope is one of the most comprehensive crow vs. ravens guides readily available on the web. But sometimes, you don’t want to pour through a bunch of text and details, you want just a quick reference, or a shorthand way of explaining to an inquiring newbie that crows and ravens are actually different.  To that aim, I am so excited to share that I teamed up with artist Rosemary Mosco of Bird and Moon comics to create a guide that is equal parts charming and informative.  Share it widely and spread the corvid love!

raven vs crow

Since initially sharing our comic Rosemary and I have been absolutely delighted at its reception, including the number of education programs asking to use it.  Among those is the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program, whose mission is to preserve and promote the Cherokee langue through engagement and service.  Cherokee is a beautiful, complex language that like all other indigenous American languages is endangered of dying out due to the cultural genocide that the US government inflicted on indigenous Americans during the late 19th and early 20th century.  I am incredibly honored to contribute to KPEP’s mission even in this small way.  Please feel free to share this image widely, just make sure to attribute the design to Rosemary Mosco, and the translation to the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program.

raven vs crow Cherokee


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26 responses to “The adorable guide to distinguishing American crows and common ravens

  1. This is lovely! I’ve seen the Seattle crows in the SODO neighborhood doing lots of barrel rolls, but nowhere else.

  2. Doro

    Fabulous guide. Thank you.

  3. Shari

    I very much love this handy (and quite charming) little at-a-glance tool and plan to print tiny copies and post on the trees, benches, fences, bird baths, porches, planters, pots, rocks, railings and gutters frequented by the numerous squirrels of my yard family. The mutigenerational crow family here has for years walked (sashayed) peacefully amongst their placid squirrel comrades as they all find and munch on peanuts and various seeds. Acts of sharing have been commonplace and documented for years.

    Lately, however, a very large, insistently croaking raven has inserted itself into this little utopia, crash-landing into the middle of a companionable knot of munching squirrels with raucous, destructive glee before actually threatening the horrified, catatonic little squirrels with rude, high-decibel, Close Talker vocals and rapid-fire wing beatings. This causes the squirrels to hurl aside their breakfasts and tear off to a high place, where they perch and whirl their tails and chatter in frustration, probably wondering how on earth this individual became The Boss of Us (many of us accustomed to thinking of a national leader as someone driven to foster the common good can currently relate to their state of stupefaction and honestly, if I had a swivel-capable tail, or really any tail, I would so the same).

    The squirrels have clearly have been lulled into a false sense of comradeship with any glossy black winged persons and have not yet acquired the discernment needed to stop confusing this loudmouthed, selfish, meanspirited, opportunistic, domineering thug with their crow friends. They seem to need your guide. I think laminating is probably in order.

  4. Maureen Walsh

    Thank you!!

  5. Love this, I have learned so much from you. Thank you so much.

  6. Dexter Chapin

    love it and thank you.
    I almost never see a raven but when in the range often wonder which is which.

  7. Rebekah Shardy

    Love the Corvids; especially ravens and crows. Thank you (and love the visuals)! PS: Join me and others in stopping Colorado State University from continuing its cruel medical experiments on captured crows. No results in West Nile Virus prevention or treatment after 13 years. This intelligent, highly social bird is killed after separation from its nests, young, mates, etc. 😦

    • mick88888888

      yes crows and ravens are the best

    • Doro

      How do we join you? Is this virtual? I can’t imagine why they’re still experimenting on them. Is there a specific reason for experimenting?

      • Rebecca Shardy

        It is a curiosity driven grant re: rates of infection between birds with West Nile Virus but after 13 years….yes 13 years!…there have been NO cures or effective treatments for West Nile virus. There are better studies on WNV that aren’t contaminated by the high stress levels of the crows (robins and other birds have also been used) which can alter test results. You can add your voice to protest by contacting please. Thank you.

    • Doro

      Thanks, Rebekah. I’ll contact Katherine today.

  8. eub

    I’m glad to see the last panel has been revised from “wishes it could do a barrel roll” to the “less frequently…”, because I was waving my hand saying but but I’ve seen crows do barrel rolls! More or less goofy ones mixed with other stunting, but legit.

    • I have it on good authority that they can’t, but without being able to substantiate that outside of the word of a career crow researcher, we decided to play it safe and revise.

  9. The Ravens seem to be attempting a takeover of the Crows domain here, or so it appears. The guide will come in handy, I saved the long version, Corvids are one of my passions. I have seen one fold it’s wings up and falls nearly to the ground then at the nick of time it recovers to soar skyward again. It may repeat that as many as ten times until it is out of sight, it’s always with other Crows, I’ve not seen any tumbling. I enjoy your blog.

  10. SeeLizBlog

    So cute I love it 🥰

  11. Shelley Watson

    This is lovely, especially the barrel roll! I know a pair of Torresian crows and, over the years, have seen them perform some wonderful aerial stunts. I can imagine them trying for the roll and not quite succeeding!

  12. Dave Gray

    Question. And good morning. Thanks for your blog. I am too rapidly heading toward retirement, and I find that I am planning on making time to be with crows. Is there something I can read that will help me understand how to develop relationships, what to feed, What to do? Thanks

    • Hi Dave, here’s my recommend reading list. I think what you’re looking for is the first one on the list.

      • Doro

        What a great question, and what a great list! Dave, as someone who’s beaten you to the retirement line, I can’t believe that I never thought to ask your question, and instead blundered along on my own. I’ve tried putting eggs out for the crows who march around here raiding garbage for food. They’re too wary, and never touch them, which always confuses me as to why. The book list is a dream. The first one and the last one on the list seem perfect for me right now. I’m off to Amazon to see if I can get them there. Thanks to both of you for this info.

  13. I’ve noticed ravens doing aerobatics at various places in my area of L.A. – they seem to enjoy sailing across building fronts when the wind blows, as well as “pairs flying” in thermals. I also enjoy listening to them talking to themselves: chirps and whistles! (Sometimes you can hear jays doing that, too.)

  14. candice bray

    I heard a sound like a short burst of a hot air balloon a few times and looked up to see a flock of 4 large black-coloured birds, two of which were doing barrel rolls- the sound occurred during the rolls. Is this a common sound to hear with rolls? I am not sure if they were ravens or crows-

  15. Slacker

    They remind me of angels when they fly over. Look at their outline!

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