How Can You Tell a Raven from a Crow?
Ravens and crows are the big, black birds that we can see in many parts of the United States. These closely related birds look very much alike, but a good look will reveal the raven’s identity. Ravens are much larger than crows.
A raven may grow to be two feet or more in length and its wings may spread as wide as four feet. It has a bigger bill than a crow’s, and a shaggy ruff of feathers on its throat. Its voice is more of a hoarse croak than a caw. The raven’s glossy black feathers have a purplish luster, and its wedge-shaped tail shows clearly in flight.
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
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.