South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Common Raven

Corvus corax

Length: 25 inches Wingspan: 50 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Large size, very thick bill, wedge-shaped tail

Common Raven - Corvus coraxCommon Ravens are the largest of the songbirds (perching birds).  Ravens are considered among the most adaptable and intelligent of birds, traits which allow them to live in environments ranging from tundra to forest to desert.  The resourceful Raven is often seen cooperating with others of its kind to capture prey.  Ravens were probably historically found throughout South Dakota, but unfortunately are now only rare visitors.  The Common Raven is, however, expanding its range into other formerly inhabited areas.

Habitat: Wide variety of habitats, but most often found in forested country.   

Diet: Omnivorous.  An incredibly wide array of items are eaten, including insects, worms, rodents, snakes, lizards, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, birds, eggs, small fish, carrion, and garbage.

Behavior: Extremely variable in behavior, with individual birds or pairs of birds exhibiting behaviors suited to local conditions.  They have adapted extremely well to a human presence, and in many locations can be seen foraging in around human dwellings and developments.

Nesting: Currently a non-breeder in South Dakota, although they likely bred here historically.  In breeding range, the nest is a large basket built of sticks, lined with grasses, weed stems, bark fibers, and mosses.  The female lays between 3 and 7 eggs, and the female does most of the incubation, with the male bringing food to the female during this time.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young.  The young leave the nest after about 40 days.

Song: Very wide variety of vocalizations. Click here to listen to Common Raven calls

Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout its range.

Similar Species: American Crow, Chihuahuan Raven

Conservation Status: Ravens were exterminated from much of their former range in the Plains, Midwest, and Eastern United States.  They are now expanding in range and numbers, especially in the Northeastern United States and in the Appalachians  They remain a very rare visitor to South Dakota, however.  On a global basis, the Common Raven is considered a species of "Least Concern" by the IUCN.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Common Raven

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Raven"

3) eNature.com: Common Raven

Photo Information: May 2nd, 2008 - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Raven photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Common Raven - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Very rare visitor.  Most sightings have been in and around the Black Hills, but they have been sighted elsewhere in the state as well.