Also known as the Northern Raven, the Common Raven is a well known big black passerine bird. It is found all over the northern hemisphere. It was originally scientifically described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.
There are 8 to 11 sub-species of the Common Raven. The reason for this is that some Scientists do accept there are up to 11 sub-species, while some only accept 8. Regardless of this, they all look rather similar. However, recent research has demonstrated that there is a sigificant genetic difference amongst populations from various regions. The closest relative of the Common Raven are the Pied Crow of Africa, the Brown-necked Raven, and the Chihuahuan Raven which is found in the south-west of North America. These sub-species are:
- Corvus corax corax – the nominate species, which occurs from as far east as Lake Baikal, as far south as the Caucasus region, and northern Iran. It has a short, arched bill. Its population in the south-west of Europe such as those on Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands have an even more arched bill and shoter wings that the nominate species. As a result, the Common Raven’s from the south-west are categorised as a seperate sub-species called Corvus corax hispanus.
- Corvus corax varius – found at the Faroe Islands and Iceland. It has less glossy pulmage, is medium-sized, and its neck feathers are whitish.
- Corvus corax subcorax is found in Central Asia, western China, north-west India, as far west as Greece. It is larger than the nominate species, but has short throat feathers. Its neck and breast are brownish.
- Corvus corax tingitanus is only found in the Canary Islands and North Africa. It is the smallest out of all of the Common Ravens, and is has a distinct pulmage that could be deemed as oily and glossy. It is stout, but it has a short bill.
- Corvus corax tibetanus is found in the Himalayas only. It is the glossiest and largest out of all the Common Raven subpsecies, and has the longest throat hackle. Its bill is large, and its neck feathers are grey at the base.
- Corvus corax kamtschaticus – found in north-eastern Asia and has a thicker and larger bill than the nominate species.
- Corvus corax principalis – found in Greenland and North America. Its has the largest bill and a large body to match. Its plumage is quite glossy.
- Corvus corax sinuatus – also known as the Western Raven, it is found in Central America and south-central USA. It is smaller and has a narrower bill than the above subpsecies.
The Common Raven is about 56 – 69 cm long. Its recorded weight can range from 690 grams to 1.63 kilograms. They usually live for up to 10 to 15 years in the wilderness, however some birds can live up to 40 years. Young Common Ravens will travel in a flock. After this, they will mate for life. Each mated pair will defend their own territory.