Crows are fascinating birds, often recognized by their glossy black plumage and remarkable intelligence. Belonging to the genus Corvus, crows exhibit a diverse range of characteristics, with some species even being referred to as ravens – essentially just large crows. These highly adaptable creatures are known for their omnivorous diets and exceptional problem-solving abilities.

Interestingly, there are over 40 official crow species in the world, with the top ten largest ones demonstrating a wide variety of unique traits. From their distinct call and habitat preferences to their exceptional wingspan and breeding habits, these magnificent birds never cease to captivate bird enthusiasts and casual observers alike. Dive into the intriguing world of crows and discover what makes these intelligent birds such a fascinating topic.

10. Long-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

The Long-billed Crow, scientifically known as Corvus macrorhynchos, can grow up to 21 inches (45 to 53 cm) long and is native to Indonesia’s Maluku Islands. This species exhibits striking white irises and a large bill, in addition to the glossy black plumage typical of most crows. However, the Long-billed Crow has recently experienced a decline in population, leading to its classification as near-threatened by the IUCN.

Found primarily in forested areas, this bird can also adapt to partly logged and cultivated lands. Known for its distinct call, the Long-billed Crow’s vocalizations have been likened to a puppy’s yapping. The future of this species largely relies on habitat preservation, as they are limited to the Maluku Islands.

9. Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)

The Torresian Crow, also known as the Australian crow or Papuan crow, is a medium-sized bird measuring 48-53 cm (about 21 inches) in length. This crow species thrives in the north and west parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. Distinguished by white feathers at the base of the neck and head, and its captivating white eyes with a thin blue ring, it stands out from the Long-billed crow.

A monogamous bird, the Torresian Crow invests in cooperative parenting. Both parents look after their chicks and engage in feeding duties, highlighting a strong family unit. Their diet is quite diverse as they consume more grains compared to their relatives; however, they are opportunistic feeders and won’t hesitate to eat garbage or carrion if the opportunity arises.

With a growing number of populations in various regions, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Torresian Crow as a species of least concern, indicating a stable and healthy population for this unique bird.

8. Forest Raven (Corvus tasmanicus)

The Forest Raven, also known as the Tasmanian Raven, is an impressive bird found primarily on the island of Tasmania and some parts of southern Victoria. These large crows can grow up to 21 inches in length, making them the largest members of the Corvus family in Australia. They have an impressive wingspan that usually measures from 36 to 44 inches.

Being highly adaptable, the Forest Raven has a conservation status of “least concern.” With its glossy black feathers and large wings that nearly reach the tail at rest, this bird is easy to recognize among the crow species. Its diet consists of a variety of foods, including roadkill, as it is an omnivorous creature.

Although these ravens are widely distributed, they are often considered a threat to agriculture and can be hunted without restrictions. Their calls are deep and gravelly, but they can also emit a loud bark as an alarm. In mainland Australia, their habitat is limited to forests, whereas in Tasmania, they can be found in several environments such as eucalyptus forests, alpine areas, coastal scrubs, and beaches.

7. The Unique White-necked Raven (Corvus albicollis)

The White-necked Raven is a sizable bird measuring 50-54 cm (around 21.25 inches) in length. It is native to eastern and southern Africa and distinguishes itself from other crow species with its distinctive white-tipped, large curved beak and a small patch of white feathers at the nape of its neck. This remarkable bird showcases a faint purple sheen along its chest, throat, and neck.

In the wild, these ravens can have a life expectancy of 10-15 years, while an impressive 50 years is possible for those in captivity. Mimicry is a fascinating ability displayed by the White-necked Raven, further showcasing their intelligence. According to the IUCN, this bird species fall under the category of “least concern”, meaning they are not facing any significant threat of extinction.

6. Collared Crow (Corvus torquatus)

The Collared Crow, also known as the White-Collared Crow or Ring-Necked Crow, is native to China and North Vietnam. This bird grows up to 55 cm (around 21.7 inches) and is distinguished by its prominent white collar of feathers encircling its neck, as well as additional white patches on both its upper back and chest. These features help differentiate it from the similar-looking White-necked Raven.

Its habitat is mostly within China, not extending much further north than Beijing. However, the Collared Crow population has experienced a decline and been classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN’s red list by 2018. It is currently estimated that the total the population of this species ranges between 2,500 and 9,900 individuals. Focused conservation measures may be necessary to help protect this intriguing species for future generations.

5. Brown-headed Crow (Corvus fuscicapillus)

The Brown-headed Crow, which can grow up to 22 inches long, is native to Indonesia. Sporting a glossy black body with a purple tint, its head and neck boast a dark brown color. This crow species has a distinctively large beak, and they enjoy feasting on fruits found in tree canopies.

Preferring virgin forests, secondary growth areas, and mangroves as their habitat, Brown-headed Crows generally stay away from open spaces. Unfortunately, these birds face a moderate population decline due to habitat destruction caused by logging, mining, and farming activities. Consequently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified them as near-threatened species.

4. Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)

The Brown-necked Raven is a fascinating bird, measuring 52-56 cm or up to 22 inches long. They are similar to brown-headed crows, with their bodies covered in shiny black feathers and distinctive brown necks and heads. These feathers become increasingly brown prior to molting.

This species is classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN and has a vast geographic range, thriving in desert environments, oases, and palm groves. They are found throughout Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and extending up to Iran. When hunting, Brown-necked Ravens demonstrate remarkable teamwork, as one bird blocks exits while the other corners and captures the prey.

Their diet consists of a diverse range of foods, such as:

  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Locusts
  • Grasshoppers
  • Carrion
  • Palm dates
  • Fruit

3. Indian Jungle Crow (Corvus culminatus) and Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

Both the Indian Jungle Crow and the Large-billed Crow share the third spot in our ranking, with each species having an average length between 46-59 cm, or up to 23.2 inches. These crows were once considered a single species called Jungle Crow, but have since been divided into three separate species, including the Eastern Jungle Crow. The distinction among them is primarily based on variations in their vocal calls.

The Indian Jungle Crow is native to the Indian subcontinent, residing below the Himalayas. It has a diverse diet, feeding on a wide variety of food items. On the other hand, the Large-billed Crow boasts a more expansive habitat range, stretching from Southeast Asia to Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and along the Asian Pacific coastlines.

Despite the limited number of natural predators, both crow species face challenges such as the H1N1 bird flu and various parasites. In addition, their nests are occasionally infiltrated by the Asian koel. This bird cunningly lays its egg alongside the crow’s eggs, tricking the crow into raising the koel’s offspring as its own – a phenomenon known as brood parasitism. This tactic allows the Asian koel to dedicate more time to foraging and breeding while the unintended crow parents take care of the parasitic youngster.

2. Common Raven (Corvus corax)

The Common Raven is a remarkable bird, with a length ranging from 54 to 67 cm (up to 26.3 inches), making it the second largest crow species. Spread across the Northern Hemisphere, it is perhaps the heaviest of all crows, with a weight of up to 4.4 lbs. The IUCN considers it to be of least concern due to its widespread population.

Being highly adaptable, the Common Raven thrives by exhibiting omnivorous feeding habits that allow it to find nutrition in diverse environments. Its relationship with humans varies from region to region: considered a pest in some areas, while in others, it is revered as a god-like figure. Once these ravens find a partner, they mate for life. Presently, there are 8 to 11 recognized subspecies, although further research might alter this classification.

Intelligence is one of the defining characteristics of the Common Raven. They are known for their playful nature, engaging in activities with no biological purpose such as sliding down snowbanks and creating their own toys from twigs. This unique behavior sets them apart as one of the few species in the animal kingdom to have such recreational habits.

Moreover, these clever birds often rely on others for help in finding food. They have been observed summoning wolves and coyotes to the site of dead animals, where the bigger carnivores break through the carcass, making it easier for ravens to access scraps. A similar resourceful tactic has been observed in Japan, where ravens place nuts on roads for passing cars to crack open, only to swoop in and claim the prize once the nut has been crushed.

1. Thick-billed Raven (Corvus crassirostris)

The thick-billed raven is the world’s largest crow species, growing up to 70 cm (28 inches) in length. This raven is known for its significantly curved and compressed bill, and its pronounced nasal grooves, giving it a unique appearance.

These ravens reside in the highlands of Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia at elevations between 5,000 ft and 11,150 ft. Their plumage is primarily glossy black, with brown accents on their throat and upper back. Notably, they possess a white patch on the back of their neck, and their beak bears a white tip.

The thick-billed raven’s habitat includes trees and cliffs, where they build nests. They are omnivorous, consuming a variety of food sources. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies this raven species as of least concern, indicating a stable population.

Canuck the Crow

One fascinating story of a crow’s intelligence and adaptability is that of Canuck, a crow from Vancouver, Canada. Canuck was found and raised by a resident, who eventually released him back into the wild, sporting a distinctive red tag on his leg.

As Canuck thrived in the urban environment, he became well-known for his mischievous exploits. These include:

  • Stealing a knife: Canuck managed to steal a knife from a crime scene, showcasing his opportunistic nature.
  • Fighting a hawk: Alongside four other crows, Canuck bravely fought off a hawk, demonstrating the power of teamwork.
  • Riding the Skytrain: Acting like a human commuter, Canuck was spotted walking on and off the Skytrain, seemingly enjoying the scenic transit.
  • Visiting a gym: Canuck occasionally stopped by a gym, where he would stroll around machines like a fitness trainer before taking a nap.

Sadly, Canuck has not been seen since 2019 and is likely no longer alive. However, his antics made him a local celebrity, garnering a Facebook fan page with over 100,000 members during his adventurous life.

Canuck the Crow

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