Northern Raven

Northern Raven    Corvus corax


  • Corvus : Latin Word for “Raven”
  • Corax: Greek word korax – Raven

Vernacular Name: Sind: Takru kaang, Hindi: Domkak, Kash: Botin kav, H.P.: Forog, Doda kan, Ghogga kan, Pun: Doda kaang, Tibetan: Neka wak, Phoro, Oro, Guj: Mahakag

Distribution in India: Resident of higher Himalayas (Tsokar & Tsomoriri in Ladhak good places to see them)

Description: Size of 58–69 cm; wt. of 585–2000 g; wingspan of 120–150 cm. It is the largest corvid with large, powerful bill with nasal bristles covering half or less of exposed culmen. The throat feathers are long and erected during dominance displays. In flight, long, fairly broad wings have prominent fingers, especially long tail often spread to form diamond shape. The nominate race is black, with greenish gloss on head and tail, primaries and underparts, bluish-purple gloss on upperparts and rest of wing. The bases of neck feathers are brownish-grey; plumage is duller and browner, with less gloss, when worn. The iris is dark brown; bill and legs are black. Both the sexes are similar, male significantly larger than female. The juvenile is duller than adult, with less metallic sheen, lacks lanceolate throat plumes, has light blue iris, soon becoming grey. The immature has dull and brownish wing and tail feathers; base of bill gradually turns from yellowish to black during first year, and tongue, gape and palate turn from red to mottled grey/black to fully black during first two years, depending on social status. The dominant birds attain black mouth lining within 1 year, but subordinates may not obtain black lining for several years. Races differ mainly in size: race laurencei is slightly larger than nominate, and often has worn, brown plumage on nape, mantle and throat; race tibetanus is very large and highly glossy, with longest throat hackles.

Habitat: It is found in forests and woodland of all types across its wide range. In Himalayas ranges to upper limits of tree-line about 4500 m. It is an extreme habitat generalist, breeding throughout forested and open coastal, steppe, mountain, and desert

Food Habits: It’s an Omnivores scavenger. Hunts small mammals like rats, squirrel and also crustaceans like crab and invertebrates like centipedes , grasshoppers and locusts , moths and caterpillars , beetles , ants and termites. Also takes variety of fruit, both wild and cultivate and variety of cereals. Also feeds among foliage of a variety of flowering taking both nectar and petals. Usually encountered in pairs or family parties, often feeding with other birds in fruiting trees; larger congregations at good food sources

Breeding Habits:  They breed in April-May. Has long-term pair-bond. Solitary breeder. Nest built by both sexes, a platform of twigs and sticks, with deep cup lined with soft materials such as wool and hair, and placed about 7–10 m above ground in prominent tree fork. Lays a Clutch of 3–6 eggs ,incubation almost entirely by female for a period of 17–19 days .The chicks fed by both parents and leave the nest at 3 or 4 weeks; family-members roost close to nest for. Nests parasitized by Common Koel.
They are the most intelligent of all birds with a large sized brain .They are only vertebrates after humans to possess the ability to communicate about an incident to others that has happened at a distant place.
Example. if a Raven spots a carcass at a distant place, it will note the place in its mind and come and tell other ravens about it and take them to that place. Only ants and bees are others who exhibit this behaviour.
They cannot tear open a large dead animal but are so smart that they call the others like Vultures and foxes to do that. Once the animal is opened, the ravens descend in huge flocks and drive away these animals and feast on the carcass.
They are excellent mimics and can mimic the human voice also. If the mates get separated they call each other in their mates voice to attract them back.
They exhibit their intelligence by hiding some food for later… they also spy on others doing the same so they can steal it… but they are also known to act as if they are hiding the food to fool others also..
They are perhaps the only birds to exhibit the nature of having fun by playing with each other (other birds do it to show supremacy of mating. They are known to slide on snow, play hide and seek, catching games etc..