The raven is a large black bird, a member of the crow family. It is massive, bigger than a buzzard. It is nearly all black with a large bill, and long wings. In flight, it shows a diamond-shaped tail. The most famous Ravens, live in the Tower of London, and wander around on the grass on 'sentry' duty.
Common Ravens typically live about 10 to 15 years in the wild, although lifespans of up to 40 years have been recorded. Young birds may travel in flocks, but later mate for life, with each mated pair defending their own territory.
Common Ravens are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion, insects and food waste, in addition to cereal grains, berries, fruit and small animals.
A mature Common Raven is the largest of the Crow family. The bill is large and slightly curved. It has a longish, strongly graduated tail, mostly black plumage, and a dark brown iris. The throat feathers are elongated and pointed and the bases of the neck feathers are pale brownish-grey, and these are the main difference in appearance from the Crow.
Some remarkable feats of problem-solving have been observed in the species, leading to the belief that it is highly intelligent. Common Ravens have among the largest brains of any bird species. They watch where other Ravens bury their food and remember the locations of each other's food caches, so they can steal from them. This type of theft occurs so regularly that Ravens will fly extra distances from a food source to find better hiding places for food. They have also been observed pretending to make a cache without actually depositing the food, presumably to confuse onlookers.
Common Ravens are known to steal and cache shiny objects such as pebbles, pieces of metal, and golf balls. One theory is that they hoard shiny objects to impress other ravens. Other research indicates that juveniles are deeply curious about all new things, and that Common Ravens retain an attraction to bright, round objects based on their similarity to bird eggs.
Young Ravens have a sense of fun, and will engage in games and flying feats for amusement.
First clutches laid
Number of broods
Number in Britain
Conservation Status UK
Status in UK
Mostly in West and North
Age at First Breeding
Maximum Recorded Age
17 years, 11 months