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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Is it a Crow or Raven? The facts you don't know.

Updated: Feb 29

Raven perching on branch
Australian Raven is larger than a Crow

Australian Raven

Widely generalized as ‘just a crow’ there are five in this family. Distinguished by its throat feathers, black eyes and wailing call. The Australian Raven is the largest member of this family responsible for cleaning up carcasses and widely blamed for killing lambs, which in fact the evidence shows are mostly dead or already dead. Ravens only start breeding at three years or more. Each day soon after sunrise they affirm their boundaries of 100ha with a patrol. Located in well-watered pastoral areas of southwestern and all eastern Australia, north to the Gulf, as well as all of NSW. They begin breeding in July and forage on spilt grain, insects and agricultural pests such as the dreaded pest army worm! Their cry can be identified as a series of three powerful nasal wailing cawing: aah-aah-aahaah falling and fading.

Forest Raven

Tasmania is home to the Forest Raven. The Raven is the largest of the family and will feed consistently below the canopy of the trees on carrion, insects, and plant materials. This bird is a pest in vegetable crops damaging seedlings, potatoes, and maize. There are small populations on the coast of Northern NSW and the New England Tablelands. There are no ‘crows’ in Tasmania! Their territory is usually around 40ha. Their cry can be identified as a deep, short cawing: korr-korr-korr (last note long and drawn)

Little Raven

This one is for inland NSW, all of Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. Their slender bills make it nearly impossible to kill dying lambs but will eat large quantities of insects (60%), 15% carrion and 25% plant matter: grain spilt in plant stubble at harvest. Little Ravens have a very small territory of 2-3ha. Their cry can be identified as guttural and baritone; kar-kar-kar-kar or, ark-ark-ark.

Crow on grass
Little Crow has a white eye with a blue inner ring

Little Crow

Located in many little towns, perching on roof tops electricity wires, mostly located in Western Australia and scavenge around refuse areas and throughout towns. Unlike the ravens their under down is pure white, these guys have a white eye with a blue inner ring. Breeding season is between July to October, but also after decent rains. Little crows will nest on telephone poles which causes may outages. Their cry can be identified as nasal cawing; k’larp-k;larp-k’larp, short and clipped.

Torresian Crow

Australian woodlands across tropical areas, to the Kimberley’s, central Australian Ranges to coastal NSW. They hold permanent territory which covers a massive 100-200ha. Mainly ground feeders, wailing or hopping about on one foot, will scavenge almost anything, anywhere, from refuse dumps to slaughter yards, roadkill and will land on crops and pick at grain; maize and sorghum as well as other seeds and fruit on the ground. Again, like the Little Crow, their under down is white, with white eyes and blue inner rings. A later breeder from August to October and the only corvid to have their nests parasitized by cuckoos. Characterized by their high pitched crawing uk-uk-uk-uk-uk short and clipped.

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