Crow Or Raven? 3 Simple Tips To Tell Them Apart!

crow or raven

It this a Crow or Raven?

If you see a black bird in the Rocky Mountains do you know if it is a Crow or Raven?  Here are three simple tricks to help you tell them apart.

There are lots of birds in the Rocky Mountains, many of which are black.  However, two large black birds that look very similar are hard to tell apart unless you know what to look for.  Is it a Crow or Raven?  Here are three simple tricks that I have learned over the years and use to help me tell apart a crow and raven.

crow or raven

Photo via Flickr.

American Crow

On average is 18 inches tall.

All black.

They are very social birds and will often entertain themselves by getting other birds to chase them.

Crows are also very clever – for example they will follow ducks to catch fish.


A Raven is on average 24 inches tall, making it slightly bigger than a crow.  It can be hard to tell the exact size of the birds from a distance though so the size of the bird is not the best way to differentiate the two.

All black.

Ravens are also very intelligent birds.  Native Americans revered them and used to think of them as sly pranksters.

Ravens have learned how to open gates, and get inside of ziplock bags and coolers.

How To Tell Apart A Crow Or Raven

crow or raven

A crow flying. Look at that tail – it is more rounded or square shaped. Photo via Flickr.

How does the bird fly?  Does it continually flap its wings while it is flying or does it stop flapping and soar at times?  A Crow continually flaps its wings while flying.  A Raven stops flapping and soars while it is flying.

crow or raven

A raven flying. Look at that tail…diamond shaped. Photo via Flickr.

Look at the bird’s tail when flying.  When flying the tail of these two birds looks different.  A Crow’s tail is more of a rounded or square shape.  A Raven’t tail will appear to be more of a diamond shape when flying.

How many birds do you see?  Ravens often travel in pairs.  On the other hands crows are very social and tend to travel with lots of other birds.