Adults range from 56 and 78 cm (22 to 30 in) in length, with a wingspan of 100 to 150 cm (40 to 59 in). Recorded weights range from 0.69 to 2 kg, it is one of the heaviest passerines. Birds from colder regions such as the Himalayas and Greenland are generally larger with slightly larger bills. The bill is slightly curved. The throat feathers are elongated and pointed and the bases of the neck feathers are pale brownish-grey. The legs and feet are well-sized. It differs from its cousins, the crows, by having a larger and heavier black beak, shaggy feathers around the throat and above the beak, and a wedge-shaped tail.

Habitat and Distribution

The Raven can thrive in varied climates. They range in the Holarctic from Arctic and temperate habitats in North America and Eurasia to the deserts of North Africa, and to islands in the Pacific Ocean. In the British Isles, they are more common in Scotland, Wales, northern England and the west of Ireland. They prefer wooded areas with large expanses of open land nearby, or coastal regions for their nesting sites and feeding grounds. They have occured on Mount Everest as well.


Ravens are omnivorous and opportunistic. They forage on tundra for microtine rodents, and scavenge on caribou and Ptarmigan carcasses. Plant food includes cereal grains, berries and fruit. They also prey on invertebrates.


The nest is a deep bowl made of large sticks and twigs, bound with an inner layer of roots, mud, and bark and lined with a softer material, such as deer fur. The nest is placed in a large tree or on a cliff ledge, or less frequently in old buildings or utility poles. Females lay between three to seven pale bluish-green, brown-blotched eggs. Incubation is about 18 to 21 days, by the female only. However, the male may stand or crouch over the young, sheltering but not actually brooding them.

Calls and Songs

The voice of ravens is also quite distinct, its usually call being a deep croak of a much more sonorous quality than a crow's call.