“Sorry, but we don’t have crows around here”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve uttered this phrase over the years (and at times been accused of pedantry!). Those large black birds, are of course ravens, and we have two local species, the Little Raven and the Australian Raven. A third species, the Forest Raven is found in the wetter forests further south, with a stronghold in Tasmania where it is the only corvid.

Little and Australian Ravens are almost identical in appearance and often best separated by their calls. The Australian Raven has an iconic call, a long and drawn out ‘aairk, aark, aaarh, aargagh’, while the Little Raven has a much quicker, clipped call along the lines of ‘ok-ok-ok’. I’ll write more on these two species in coming weeks.

Little Raven

Little Raven in flight, Moolort Plains, 2nd July 2013.

Little Raven2

Both species of ravens are wary of photographers. I was lucky to snap this Little Raven moments before it took flight.

For the record, there are crows in Australia with two native species, the Little Crow and the Torresian Crow. The only species likely to be seen in Victoria is the Little Crow, whose distribution just creeps into the north-west of the state.

28 responses to ““Sorry, but we don’t have crows around here”

  1. David Griffiths

    You are not alone Geoff, i have been saying it for years too, and get the same response or an argument based on opinion rather than fact.Keep it up.

  2. Sorry Geoff, I know they are ravens but I will always call them crows. Or more likely “those bloody crows”. Why, I don’t know.

  3. Chris Timewell

    Just to confuse matters, all of the raven and crow species in Australia are from the same genus – Corvus. Neither of the two bird field guides I’ve just checked (Simpson & Day, Slater) shed any light on why particular species Corvus species in Australia are called either a crow or raven.

    The following website suggests that all 5 Australian corvid species evolved from a common ancestor relatively recently (in evolutionary timescales). It also suggests that the colour at the base of the hackle feathers is an indicator of whether its a crow or raven.
    http://brokenbiologian.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/what-is-difference-between-crows-and.html

    Another interesting read about Australian corvids, and the challenges in identifying them, can be found in this entertaining recent article from Sean Dooley.
    http://birdlife.org.au/australian-birdlife/detail/the-trouble-with-ravens

    • What he said.
      Also, that genus, well Corvus means crow, so if you’re being pædantic, all ravens are crows. Like the one about tomato being a fruit and not a vegetable. It’s a myth, vegetable is a generic term for vegetation material, so all fruits are vegetables.

      • So all fruits is vegetable but not all vegetables is fruits. All fruit has seeds inside – hence tomatoes are fruit.

  4. I often have ravens on my proprty on 90 mile beach Gippsland.Their calls are ark ark ark agh at a very high pitch.I have never heard ok ok ok.

  5. My 25 year old Daughter insists there are no crows, only ravens in Australia, because when she was at Secondary college, a teacher told the class that no crows live in Australia, just ravens.I want to show her this article! We live in Melbourne’s south east, and have a lot of visiting birds, some cuckoo shrikes, currawongs and even some red tailed black cockatoos, here at times.

  6. Wrong. There is a species called the Torresian crow in Australia.

    • Dear Rahim,
      Please have a look at the full post where I discuss the occurrence of crows in Australia.
      Cheers, geoff

  7. We have “crows” returning to the same nest for the third year…living in the north west of Victoria are they Little Crows or Ravens?

    • Hi Rod – it’s possible that they might be either Australian Raven, Little Raven or Little Crow. Crows have snow-white down at the feather bases – this is often visible when there is a breeze ruffling the feathers. Little Crows often nest in loose colonies. They have a slender bill, much finer than either of the ravens and the voice is quite different. Pizzey’s Field Guide has excellent descriptions.
      Let me know what you think, All the best, geoff

  8. South Australians will starve without crows!

  9. Hi Geoff, just observed some interesting behaviour from an Australian Raven, judging from the neck feathering. It had attacked a Galah on the ground and pecked its tail feathers out so it could not fly, and then it killed and ate it. I think I have seen this twice now and will try to take a pic next time. – I live in Canberra

  10. I have a Question! Having a debate on FB with some friends who seem to think I’m stupid because I made a comment that WE in WESTERN AUSTRALIA DO NOT CROWS they are ravens. Can anyone please clarify for me so I can rub it in their faces 🙂 Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Jenna – here is the short answer … WA has the Australian Raven (larely confined to the SW but well out into the wheatbelt. It also has the Little Crow across almost all of the state apart from the very far north and the Torresian Crow which avoids the SW but can be found in most of the rest of the state. So, in summary WA has both crows and ravens … you may have to concede in the debate! Cheers, geoff

  11. Hi, does anyone know any particular spots in or around Melbourne where ravens can reliably be found? Ideally someplace where it would be possible to get some video 🙂

    • Hi Peter, all of the black ‘crow’ like birds around Melbourne will be ravens – rubbish dumps and ploughed paddocks are good places to start looking. Cheers, geoff

    • There are Ravens at and near Melton Train Station. The trees on the North side of the carpark is a good place to look. (Brooklyn Road)

    • Kathy MacKendrick

      To Peter Allen – Looking for ravens? Lots in the very tall trees around Hoppers Crossing station and nearby streets! Magpies don’t trouble me, it’s the ravens trying to swoop me! I don’t know why this isn’t more commonly known.

  12. To Peter W. Allen. There are Ravens at and near Melton Train Station.The trees on the North side of the carpark is a good place to look. (Brooklyn Road)

  13. Christina Bakkum

    Well thank you very much for this information, I have known this for many years, but there’s still people that aren’t convinced and still argue this point. I have a friend and she still quizzes me by saying, oh look there goes a “crow” just to test me but I don’t say anything as I know she lost the argument 12 months ago and she just like it if I know something she doesn’t, I had another person to google it and said I was right and she had to convince her three times, she commented, “how do YOU so much about birds???” oh well 😔 there you go, I can never be right!!! 🙅‍♀️ Thank you kind regards

  14. After reading all the comments I’m none the wiser. I have just a solitary crow or raven visit my garden whilst the remainder stay away up on the power lines ( now defunct). Cynthia Hammond Donvale Vic

    • Hi Cynthia

      The only crows you are likely to see in Victoria are in the far north-west (around Mildura), where the Little Crow co-occurs alongside both Little Ravens and Australian Ravens. In Donvale you may get both species of ravens and possibly a third species, the Forest Raven. These three look similar but can be distinguished by calls. Cheers, geoff

  15. Hi everyone,interesting comments as i have recently been visited by what i first thought was a crow so i called him Russell but have since realised he is a raven ! He is super smart and comes everday twice a day for food ! Im very smitten with hin as he does know me and when i leave the house he quite often watches me ..every morning at the same time i call him and he comes and lands in my backyard! Such a beautiful boy and extremely intelligent!

  16. Hi
    Living in suburban Melbourne and wondering if the noisy blackbirds that appear then disappear over a few days, are in fact small ravens. They arrive in groups of twenty plus.
    Not sure what small means as these seem a reasonable size.
    Did I mention very noisy.🤦‍♀️😂Thankyou!

    i

  17. If we all call them crows, aren’t they crows?
    Isn’t that how language works?

  18. I’m in Tasmania & at age 60 I only found out a couple of years ago that what we have here are Forest Ravens. Spent all my life calling them Crows but now I’m pedantic about it too & often correct people who call them Crows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.