Viewing 74 reply threads
    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Are you confident in your ability to distinguish crows from ravens - and other “blackbirds”?  If so, do you have additional id tips that you use? If not, what is still confusing you?
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Sara
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      sarabethell
      Yes, I found it much more challenging to distinguish them from pictures of ravens.
    • Diana
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      q8K#wcM
      I go mainly by ear—they are both much more ‘visible’ by sound than sight. Outside of downtown Philadelphia, along the river, we have American Crows, Fish Crows, and the occasional Common Raven.
      • Bonnie Lee
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        notneb64
        I agree, it is much easier to ID by sound. I am a novice birder and just don't seem to be quick enough to catch flight. Bonnie
    • p
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      fragaria
      I find the trick seems to be to look at ALL the clues - wings (rounded, five fingered), tail (square ended), head shape, beak shape, dark eyes, feathers around head and neck.  Any one of these may not be enough to identify (especially wing tips), but if I can see more than one part clearly, then I can probably accurately identify a crow.
    • Jeremiah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      electrifiedground
      My tip is that non-crows are sometimes more glossy, like their feathers have more oils.
    • William
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      wbwarr
      Yes, I am quite confident.
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Anndrussky
      Crows have dark eyes, many other black birds have yellow eyes
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        klukacs
        I noticed that, too, but I wasn't sure if that was always the case.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Sue Beckhorn
      Between crow and raven, sometimes the fully spread raven tail looks like a crow to me. learning the wing tips! I have both around my home, so want to know them apart flying overhead.
    • Elaine
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Elaine0421
      In person, it's easy for me to distinguish crows from ravens.  Ravens aren't really in my area, so I don't see them much, if at all.  But if I do see them, they are much larger than crows, so that makes it easy.  Seeing pictures of each bird is a little more challenging. As far as crows vs. other blackbirds, I start with eye color, as many other black birds have light eyes, whereas crows have dark eyes.  I also look for other colors in the feathers.  Crows are all black, but other blackbirds may have sheen in their feathers or even bright colors or distinguishing colors.
    • Crystal
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Cris720
      I am feeling more confident with distinguishing crows from other blackbirds. I cannot say for certain that I am 100% on crows vs ravens though.  We have a lot of grackles here so determining the male grackles vs crows is pretty easy when you get close enough.
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      julie koch
      The yellow eyes of Grackles are an easy identifier if they're close enough to see
    • Paul
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      FairmontFarm
      I am around here, and I think I would be where the big grackles live as well.  Some of the boat-tailed grackle photos in the SnapID were tough!
    • Robert
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Rob_Rob
      Crows are also exquisitely beautiful.
    • Ticia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      ticiam
      LOVE CROWS !  Not really a "birder" / more aspiring naturalist  :) Don't think we have Ravens here in Pa. (?).  Crows always alert me to a perched Owl nearby.  I could be inside the house, but when I hear them raising a ruckus, I know to grab the binocs and run outside ! Am thoroughly enjoying this course !
    • Chuck
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      chuck.passentino
      I now feel more confident in identifying American Crows from other kinds of blackbirds, but I still lack confidence in distinguishing American Crows from Common Ravens. However, the class builds my confidence and sharpens my eyes, so I feel I'll improve. Differentiating crows from other blackbirds is easier. The eye color and size differences are key characteristics that help identifying crows from other blackbirds.
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      juliehoskins
      Feel confident, also recognizing eye color is distinct compared to other birds is helpful.
    • Jeannie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      jbron24
      If I were to see a raven, I'm pretty sure I'd get it wrong! Mainly because I have no experience with ravens. But I do well distinguishing crows from other birds. Grackles have those big yellow eyes. Also crows are much larger than other blackbirds. From a distance, I can always tell a crow in flight. There's a certain quality to the movement of the wings, it's hard to put into words, but I see it, I just know.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      LindaHarmony
      I am confident about my ability to distinguish crows from grackles, blackbirds, and cowbirds, but less so from the raven.
    • Lynn
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Lemmolo
      Agree.  Dark Eye is the best.   However head shaper plus beak are also differentiators.
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      vickigoldsmith
      the dark eye color often helped me distinguish, as well as the brownish cap for the cowbird, the midnight blue highlights for some grackles and the red wings of the blackbird, and in the field, I am getting to know some of the red winged blackbirds calls. I do see beak shape and tail shape differences, but have not obsorbed well enough for those to truly help me distinguish in the field - especially if no comparison available. As well I think I would get tripped up by the Brewer Blackbird. However, I expect the crow's call would be a good tip-off!
    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      runnerboy13
      Blackbirds are small, and you can see their pupils. Crows are larger , have broader bills, and have dark eyes.
    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      runnerboy13
      Blackbirds are small, and you can see their pupils, crows are larger , have broader bills, and have dark eyes.
    • Lucy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      ruffian67
      Not so good with flying crows and ravens. But there are no ravens around here. Lots of grackles, but they are easy to identify.
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      SylviaAlleen
      I'm confident that I can identify crows.
    • Audrey
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      AQHall
      I am very confident that I can tell crows and ravens and, yes, the "blackbirds" apart. Crows are party birds. They do loops in the air and are very noisy; they also have rounded tails and shorter neck feathers than ravens. Grackles have long tail feathers and, sometimes, yellow eyes. Ravens, however, have diamond-shaped tails and longer neck feathers than crows. I hope these tips help! (:
    • Kleopatra
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Kekmadar
      I am confident.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Sevin7
      Yes, I am.
    • harriet
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      harriethenderson
      I find that grackles fly very different. They fly as if their tail is too heavy for them, so they fly with their tail noticeably lower than their head, whereas crows fly more like a raptor, flat and straight.
    • Kelly
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      kweymouth
      I find another difference is their behavior. Other black colored birds are less observant.
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      roquech
      I noticed that a crow's feathers seem to be really dark black whereas some of the other birds have an iridescent sheen to their feathers.  Like other mentioned, I too noticed the black eye.  I did get tricked one time though relying on this feature!
    • Rosalie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      dearosalie
      Where I live I believe we only have crows and ravens; it can be hard to tell them apart in flight. I am not sure if this is correct, but if I see a pair, I assume they are ravens and if there are more than two, then I assume they are crows. I also listen to the sounds they make to determine which is which.
    • Melonie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      melship20081
      I live in Alaska and Minnesota, have both, confident in ID. However, had not been as aware of the grackle's eyes before!
    • harriet
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      harriethenderson
      Yup I mainly look for the shape of the bill and the shape of the tail.
    • marny
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      marga52
      confident I can identify the crow.
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      raheagle
      When I started this segment of the course and looked at the line up of other blackbirds, I realized just how much I knew because several are frequently sighted where I live in Northern New York.  I have to focus real closely when the birds are in flight, however.  A still shot is rather safe to look at and then make a decision.  Live action crows can be another story.  But I keep trying.  It's getting better!
    • oakdale
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      kmcnaugh
      I did practice many times using the identification quizzes.  Sometimes, the beaks were what help me id the crow or raven. I have seen enough red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and cowbirds it is not too difficult to distinguish between them.  But now that I have stated this I'll be eating "crow."
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      LindaMiwa
      I have terrible time telling ravens and crows apart in flight.
      • Ava
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        avamarshall
        Me too!
    • KATHRYN
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      KatCrow
      Size and markings especially. Crows and Ravens have dark eyes. Grackles have longer thinner legs and have a peculiar " head bob" as they walk. Also just by listening to the birds calls.
    • Michael
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mdzaug67
      Look at the eyes. Crows eyes are dark.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      bjdeeter
      I found it easy to distinguish a crow from grackle, red wing blackbird and cow bird - eyes and colors - but the tail still confuses me, as I look for the round V’s. the sharp tail feathers and find I'm often wrong,
    • Elsa
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      eSale49
      Not additional;  I look mainly at the beak because I've missed a couple looking at the tail.  But, I've missed a couple in this quiz, looking at the beak as well!  Sigh.  I believe, however, that I've learned a great deal thus far and I'm so excited about it!  I've even engaged my husband who's not as interested on the subject as I am, and he answered correctly about those snakes!  I live in Southern California and I'm very familiar with our beautiful crows; they 've fascinated me for a long time.   In searching for more information on the internet about crows, a few years ago, I came upon a gentleman's comment, which began: "well, of course you've read the book, 'The Tarantula in My Purse', and that's why you are on this site..", he says.  No, I thought, but I will definitely look into the book.  I bought it immediately, and that's when my love affair with these beautiful and intelligent creatures began.  I've shared this sweet little book with so many friends, that I never got it back from whoever the last such friend was!   Can't wait to continue my education with you!!  Thank you!
    • Evvie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      inkybirbs37
      I live in Worcester County Massachusetts. I frequently see common grackles, redwing blackbirds, brown headed cowbirds, and American crows in my neighborhood. We've got a ton of local birds! I've very rarely see ravens here, and always in the western part of the state, though I saw many ravens when I visited the West Coast. I'm trying to ID a mystery blackbird I've spotted the last two summers. They look just like crows, but smaller--about the size of a mockingbird, with tails the same shape and proportion as an American crow and beaks similar to a crow, but just slightly smaller in proportion to the head. Their vocalizations are softer and less strident than an American crow's but deeper than most songbirds their size. More of a "WUH" than a "CAW." They've always shown up in small groups. I've never seen one alone. They are not irridescent like a grackle or raven, they're a plain matte black, and have no colored patches. Their heads are the same black as their bodies. They must be migrating when I've seen them, because they're uncommon sightings, always during summer. I don't recall ever seeing them before last year. I thought perhaps fish crow, but they're not known to come this far north and inland. Though with climate change, who knows? Our hardiness zone has changed over the years. Can some flocks of crows be small and fairly quiet? Unfortunately, I don't have a good zoom lens and haven't gotten close enough to catch good photos or videos. Would love to hear if anyone has thoughts or has seen these same blackbirds in the region!
    • charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      char5854
      Feel very confident about id of the american crow- been feeding a family for about 10 years now- haven’t seen too many Ravens here in the NW hill of Ct
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Angela.Snow
      I am apparently very good at identifying crows from ravens if they are right next to each other, are completely still, and I can put my face 6 inches away from them. I think I am good at telling them apart in the field as well, but with no one to correct me, how would I know if I were mistaken?  I think the voices of crows and ravens are very distinctive, as are the tails if they are flying overhead.
    • James
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Jim Fuehrmeyer
      I see Crows, Common Grackles, Boat-tailed Grackles,  and Red-winged Blackbirds regularly in my yard and when I am in Florida. I recently got a trip to Russia and saw Rooks, Hooded Crows and Eurasian Blackbirds but I am still waiting to see my first Raven. Given my familiarity with these others I am pretty confident that a Raven will stick out from the crowd.
    • Diane
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      dlahaise
      One tip that I have read about and is helpful to me is that ravens will occasionally soar in flight whereas crows never do that. This only helps if the bird is flying, of course. I also look for that wedge-shaped tail in the raven for confirmation.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      susangreta
      I observe ravens in Iceland (work there) where there the only corvid is the raven. So it's easy for me there - but here in NYC and in MA where I am a residet, I have trouble. I have spotted ravens in the city, and they are huge - I compare them with hawks for size, as they are usually about the same distance away as a hawk (far), fly in pairs, land on top of high buildings, and I've even been able to catch the "wedge-shaped" tail in a photo. There are a lot of crows in NYC and at the Cape (Cod/MA) common crows and fish crows. They are noisy and in small flocks, rarely alone. The ravens, if they call, are distinctive in their croak.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        If the "wedge shaped tail" of a Common Raven is hard to visualize. See if you notice that the outermost tail feathers on each side of the tail are shorter than the innermost/central tail feathers. For an American Crow the tail feathers are even in length.
      • Cam
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        CamMannino

        @Lee Ann van Leer Thanks, Lee Ann.  That's helpful.

      • Ava
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        avamarshall

        @Lee Ann van Leer Very helpful! Thank you!

    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Bookista
      Those eyes on the grackle make it very easy to distinguish a grackle from a crow! I feel pretty good about distinguishing a raven from a crow, too, as long as I am close enough to eyeball its size! Crows are so gorgeous, and I'm not just saying that because they are in my last name! :D
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mmathews32
      The eyes and beak help me identify a crow. The Wings and tails in flight still confuses me.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      krexplus
      Crows have dark/black eyes. Some of the other birds with which the crow is sometimes confused have yellow/light brown eyes.
    • pat
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      prestivo1967
      Fairly confident
    • Faith
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      faith m sullivan
      Yes appears to be many different things that help you distinguish the difference . Size ,color of eyes  colors on body and tail feathers / shape  beaks
    • Robert
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      bob
      Yes, for the most part. But the crows around here in the Alberta Boreal are large. I've been listening mornings to a young family of ravens (judging only by sound). The fledgelings sound like crow caws, but when the adult chimes in, it's more of a cronk. I wouldn't bet the farm on identifying by sound.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        Agreed re: sound of fledglings - I've never heard crow fledglings, but the raven chicks, I've heard a lot - and fledglings make a very loud begging cry, like crow caws but coninuous, similar in mien to other begging baby birds. The adult ravens make cronks but I've heard them make some other rattling sounds, soft krunks,  and alarm cronks.  Crows I identify by caws, and they are more apt to make sounds than the adult ravens.
    • Douglas
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      BoothDA
      Ravens are notably larger and have pointier tales and wings as well as a longer hooked beak
    • charlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      charlene cyr
      Yes I feel confident in identifying crows
    • Roseann
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      RoseannK
      I do see crows regularly (lots of them) and ravens less often, but still somewhat regularly (usually just one or two at a time). The first time I saw a raven in my area he was standing among a  group of crows and seagulls that I was feeding (he was hanging back a bit). At first I thought, that's a very large crow, as body-wise he was as large as a seagull... of course it wasn't a large crow, it was a raven. I got up to speed after that in telling the difference between the two. Sometimes it's harder at a distance, unless I hear their call... that's a real give-away.
    • Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      jduprau
      I see both crows and ravens here in N California and have now learned to tell them apart by size and tail.
    • Fred A.
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      fjordan
      Yes I can tell the difference.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mrsknapp1
      I’m not sure if there are Ravens here on the Monterey Bay, but I’m going to find out and if there are I will try to identify them.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Yes Barbara,   There are Common Ravens in Monterey Bay so I hope you were able to find some.
    • karima
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      whales123
      The crow's facial features like eye and beak shape are different!
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      kathleen803
      We don't have ravens in North Florida, so I don't need to distinguish between crows and ravens at home, but when traveling I can usually tell them apart by size and beak shape. I didn't know that ravens have longer throat feathers and that will be helpful for close up IDs in the future. Sometimes it's challenging to distinguish crows from grackles when they're flying. We also have Fish Crows, which I can distinguish from American Crows by their call.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        I can't tell the difference between the common crow and the fish crow - I see both around the beach but don't know which is which or what sound the fish crow might make.
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        throckm6

        @Susan YouTube "fish crow call" - the sound is very distinctive!!

    • Allan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      aebrandli
      The beak size and shape along with the eye coloring were two of the key identifiers that I took away from this lesson.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      ajojac
      I am getting better at noticing beak size, eye color and tail shape/size. In New Jersey there are no ravens but plenty of grackles, red wings, cow birds and starlings. In flight is my biggest challenge.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        I read that there are ravens in NJ now. I have seen them in NYC (as have other people) and they do "krunk" and when they fly they are usually high - hawk level - and that's how I know they are ravens as they size is comparable to a red-tailed hawk. Crows are smaller and they hang in gangs.
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Cathy3417
      I'm confident in being able to distinguish between crows and ravens. I've only seen a raven in captivity but the size difference was amazing. I have actually heard a crow that sounded a lot like a raven. His voice was totally different from all the other crows in my area (SF Bay Area).
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Courtney47
      I m fairly confident with these pictures, but will probably have more trouble distinguishing crows from ravens in reality.
    • Jeni
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      jeniluby
      I'm fairly confident in my ability to distinguish crows from ravens. I do so mostly by their call - caw and cronk. Ravens where I live are markedly bigger than crows. I look for the scruffy neck feathers to identify the raven.
    • Jonquele
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      jonquele
      I don't have much trouble separating the crows from the grackles and blackbirds when they are perched or nearby... and none at all when they are calling. I do run into issues though when they are in flight and at a distance. Then I am more like to confuse them with the vultures (black or turkey) until they turn or glide. I don't quite have the wingbeat patterns down or the silhouettes. The very strong light in Texas can wash out a lot of the telltale details.
    • Kathryn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      k28hutch
      I noticed that the crow's eyes are black, too. That helped me distinguish between them and the other birds on some of the close-up head shots.  I had more trouble identifying them in flight from a distance or by silhouette.
    • Amanda
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      adguzman
      I'm pretty good distinguishing crow from non-crow/raven; but between a crow and a raven in real life, not still pictures, I'm a little shaky. It doesn't help that there aren't many ravens in this area for me to practice on. I appreciate the tips from this lesson, though. I'll be sure to put them into practice when I go birding in the future.
    • J
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      JimFeet
      I am confident in my ability to distinguish between crows (or ravens) and non-crows/ravens. My ability to discriminate crows from ravens when perched or on the ground is also fairly solid, less so in flight which is how we often see them here in canyon country (southeast Utah). Habitat, habits and calls are helpful but unless seen flying solo or in pairs along canyon walls (ravens) or as a "murder" (crows) I frequently find it difficult to decide what I'm looking at. Although we are shown as being on the edge of their range, American crows are often seen here in large numbers.
      • Desiree
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Weeziehupy
        I have a very hard time in general identifying birds in flight. Crows aren’t too difficult for me in New Orleans where I live, but I’m sure if I lived where you do with crows and ravens I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference until I heard their calls. I love your advice about watching to see how they group together and where they go. I did not know ravens are usually single or in pairs!
      • J
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        JimFeet

        @Desiree In my limited experience (although with many years of canyon hiking behind me), I've often seen ravens soaring along or above the canyon walls. In springtime, we frequently see them as pairs. They like to nest in sheltered alcoves or openings on the cliff faces. They'll often perch on a dead snag or rock ledge where they command a good view.

    • Ron G.
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      RonG1945
      I’m still having trouble with ravens and crows.  If I see a small flock - say 5 -  does that mean it can’t be a raven?
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        That's interesting! Where are you seeing them? I always see ravens - in Reykjavik - and in the countryside - and in NYC - as single or pairs. Never flocks, but I've seen young ravens in a flock in the winter (a friend feeds them!). I always assume a flock is crows - I often see a flock feeding on someone's lawn, or mobbing each other over food items on the building roof across from me in NYC.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      James949
      I am confident that I can distinguish crows from other birds (though perhaps not yet from ravens) especially the babies, although I doubt that I will ever get that close. "Our" fledgling was walking about on our porch as a friend arrived for dinner. Oh! the out cry from parents and relatives as he approached! I wish I had seen the youngster.
    • DLadetto
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      DLadetto
      Sometimes from a distance I’ll see a crow or a grackle walking by itself picking at stuff in the lawn. From a distance, when you can’t gauge size, they still seem confusing to me. However, I’ll try to pay more attention to see if there are posture, walking, or behavioral differences I can spot.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      amystrahl
      I'm not as good as I'd like to be in distinguishing a Crow from a Raven.  I think I just need more experience and/or practice.  The lesson was clear.  I do better on your photo ID quizzes when the bird comparison is from the same aspect.
    • karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      karensantee
      I am confident in my ability to distinguish crows from ravens, however, we do not have ravens where I live.
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