[American Crow] [American Crow call] Hi, I’m Kevin McGowan. I work in the education section of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I have also been studying crows for over 25 years and I’m interested in everything that they do. [American Crow] [American Crow] American crows are the ones who do the standard caw caw kind of thing, but they also have a large repertoire of rattles and clicks and even clear bell-like notes. The rattle is often used along with standard sort of territorial caw caw kind of things and we don’t really know what it means, but it may mean something to the rest of the family like, “Yeah go get him we’re with you.” The caw caw is essentially the same kind of thing as a bird song, it says I’m here and this territory is taken so you guys better stay out if you don’t have any good reason to be here. [Common Raven] [Common Raven call] That’s a common Raven. That’s their very common grunk kind of call and it always makes me smile. The little chuckling notes are a sort of short distance communication and maybe a young bird actually just talking to itself or it could be a bird that’s doing some kind of communication with another bird that’s flying with it. [American Crow] Crows and ravens don’t sing to defend their territory but they have complicated lives and communicate with other members of their family all the time. They do caws and gronk kind of things that are advertisement for their presence at home to tell everybody else that they’re still there and at home [Common Raven] and they listen for those from their neighbors so they can understand who’s still around in the territory. [Common Raven] The calls by individual crows and ravens are distinct enough that they probably recognize each other within, certainly within their own family or within their own pair and probably within their own neighborhood too. [American Crow] [American Crow call] [Discover more at AllAboutBirds.org]

End of transcript

Crows and ravens can be tricky to tell apart by sight, but their voices are distinctive. Watch this video for some expert tips on the calls of these two common birds. From the territorial “caw, caw” of the American Crow to the guttural croak of the Common Raven, each species has a repertoire of sounds that helps it survive and thrive. The calls of crows and ravens are individually distinct so family members and neighbors can probably recognize birds they know well even if they are out of sight.

Now you can experience Bird Academy’s latest online course, taught by Dr. Kevin McGowan, Anything but Common: The Hidden Life of the American Crow