While crows and ravens may look similar and are both highly intelligent birds, they are very different in their behavior, habitat and even have physical characteristics that clearly distinguish them from one another.

Comparison chart

Crow versus Raven comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartCrowRaven
Feathers Less shiny, may have lighter markings Shiny and wet sheen
Wings in Sun Purple with green-tinted wings Shiny with a blue or purple tint
Bill Smaller and flat. There is no tuft of hair atop the bill. Bigger, more powerful and curved. There is a tuft of hair atop the bill.
Size Smaller; the size of a pigeon; 17 inches long (approx.); weight around 20 oz Larger; almost the size of Red-tailed Hawks; 24-27 inches long; Weight around 40 oz
Wings Blunt and splayed; wingspan 32 to 40 inches Pointed wings; wingspan 46 to 54 inches
Life span 8 years 30 years
Adaptive skills Like being in human populated areas; more social and audacious Drawn to carrion cattle and sheep; less social, more cautious
Vocalization Caw- Caw; nasal, high pitched call Gronk-Gronk, croooaaak; low and hoarse
Habitat Urban landscape Wilder areas
Tail Fan-shaped Wedge-shaped

Physical Appearance

Ravens are larger than crows. So they are longer, weigh more and have greater wingspan. When in flight their necks appear longer than that of a crow. The bill of a raven is also larger. Crows tend to fluff their feathers into a mane and when a raven fluffs up its breast it looks ragged.

The tails are also prominently different and this can be seen clearly when these birds are flying. Ravens have pointed wings and wedge-shaped tails but crows have blunt and splayed wings and fan-shaped tails.

Here's a great video about the differences between ravens and crows and how to tell them apart:

Call of a Raven vs a Crow

Crows generally make the ‘Kaw’ sound in discrete units. A loud Kaw followed by a series of short Kaws. It is high pitched and nasal; crows are louder and have a harsher sound. A raven has deeper and less piercing sound. Their calls may sound like "croooaaak", "gronk- gronk", "tok", and "wonk-wonk."

Listen to these audio recordings:


Crows are very intelligent and are known to devise ingenious ways of getting food and surviving in urbanized environments. In a study published in July 2014, researchers found that for certain cause-and-effect water displacement tasks (like The Crow and the Pitcher story in Aesop's Fables), crows can perform as well as 7- to 10-year-old humans. In fact, crows can form special relationships with humans who feed them consistently. As an example, crows have been known to bring little trinkets as gifts for this family in Seattle.

Crows also have the ability to recognize and remember people by their faces.[1]

This video also demonstrates the intelligence of modern-day crows in Japan:

The Nature documentary The Murder of Crows (YouTube) is a great film for those interested in learning more about this extraordinary bird.

This video, shot in Canada, demonstrates the intelligence of ravens.

Tool Use

There are at least two known species of crows that use tools: the New Caledonian crow and the Hawaiian crow.

New Caledonian crows are even known to care for their tools and make new tools by bending straight pieces of garden wire into hooked foraging tools.

In a recent experiment, 93% of adult Hawaiian crows in captivity were able to find and use a stick to scrape meat out of logs with tiny holes. They had never done this before and it was a novel situation that they adapted to, using sticks as tools.


Ravens thrive on small invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, birds, cattle/sheep carrion, human garbage. Crows prefer birds, fruits, nuts, mollusks, earthworms, seeds, frogs, eggs, nestlings, mice and carrion.

Ravens and Crows in Mythology

A totem pole in Anchorage, Alaska, showing a raven stealing the moon and stars
A totem pole in Anchorage, Alaska, showing a raven stealing the moon and stars

Crows are associated with war and death in Irish mythology. In Cornish folklore crows are associated with the "otherworld" and so must be treated with respect. In Australian Aboriginal mythology, the crow is an ancestral being. In Buddhism the protector of the Dharma is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms.

The raven is revered as god by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest in North America and in northeast Asia. Several totem poles erected by native Americans in Washington, Alaska and Oregon depict ravens and the stories they feature in. In the Old Testament of the Bible there are several references to common Ravens. In the British Isles, ravens were symbolic to the Celts. In Irish mythology, the goddess Morrígan alighted on the hero Cú Chulainn's shoulder in the form of a raven after his death.


Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"Crow vs Raven." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 12 Jun 2019. < >