How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

Crows and ravens are large black birds found throughout North America, and they can be hard to tell apart. The best clue for identification is usually the voice, but the species differ in some other subtle ways, too. This page will help you recognize the differences among these often confusing birds.

Crows And Ravens: By Sight

Click on each species name to go to its in-depth identification page in our All About Birds species guide.


american crow
Widespread across North America. Bill size: moderate; Length: 20"; Wingspan: 36"
american crow flight silhouette
In flight: Rounded tail; 5 broad feather "fingers"


fish crow
East Coast and southeastern U.S. Bill size: moderate; Length: 16"; Wingspan 33"
fish crow flight silhouette
In flight: rounded tail; 4 broad feather "fingers"


common raven
Western North America, Northeast, and mountains. Bill size: very large; Length: 27"; Wingspan 46"
common raven flight silhouette
In flight: diamond-shaped tail; 4 long, thin feather "fingers"


Chihuahuan Raven
Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Bill size: large; Length: 20"; Wingspan 42"
Chihuahuan Raven flight silhouette
In flight: diamond-shaped tail; 4 broad feather "fingers"

Crows And Ravens: By Sound

One of the best ways to tell crows and ravens apart is by their calls. Here are some expert tips on the sounds they make, and what those sounds mean.

Practice by listening to the sounds of each species:

American Crows have a strong, harsh caw.

Fish Crows make a weaker, more nasal, and often 2-noted caw.

Common Ravens make a deep, throaty croak.

Chihuahuan Ravens make a deep kraaa sound.

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