Ravens are typically all-black birds and are sometimes confused for crows. To date, some people still associate these creatures with bad luck. Usually, this is because of how they look.
What do ravens eat? By the end of this article, you’ll have learned two important lessons. Read through to have a better understanding.
Ravens Habits And Biology
Ravens are large, usually black birds with slightly curved, thick beaks (also called bills). They are part of the same family as crows, where they mainly differ in size.
Aside from its more significant size, ravens differ from their crow cousins by having shaggy feathers and the way they soar, which involves less flapping.
Ravens, like crows, communicate using distinct noises. Their calls can be described as a deep croak that is more distinct than that of a crow. Common ravens have about 30 categories of vocalizations used to interact with one another.
Ravens almost always succeed when it comes to defending their young and themselves. They will attack by lunging at potential predators with their bills.
The common ravens‘ average length is 63 centimeters (25 inches) and weighs about 1 kilogram (2.6 pounds). These birds can survive in the wild for up to 23 years on average.
Ravens typically travel in mated pairs, whereas younger birds will form flocks. Their relationships usually are quarrelsome. Nonetheless, ravens remain devoted to their families.
There exist only nine species of raven birds, the most known being the common raven. Common ravens only take one partner for life and nest in the same location.
Raven couples usually establish a territory of their own before they begin to breed. You can find their nests anywhere from buildings, utility poles, and cliff ledges in a large tree.
The female raven lays about 3-7 eggs which sometimes appear pale blue. The hatched chicks lack feathers and can’t open their eyes.
It takes 35-40 days for the young ravens to develop feathers and master the art of flying. They go on living with their parents for 6 more months.
Juvenile ravens will begin courting very early in life, but it takes about 2-3 years to find their life partners.
What Do Ravens Eat In The Wild?
Ravens are omnivores and will eat both animal and plant matter. They are also described as opportunistic feeders as their diets vary with location, season, and good fortune.
In some areas, ravens are mainly scavengers relying on carrion for survival. Because they are not equipped to tear flesh from prey like eagles or vultures, they rely on other predators like the grey wolf to tear flesh or strip the skin off the carcass.
Ravens will raid food storages of other animals like Arctic foxes. They are also predators of birds’ nests, preying on nestlings and fully grown birds when the opportunity presents itself. They will also pick off eggs from other birds’ nests.
Generally, ravens will readily eat the following when available:
- Carrion (dead animal).
- Mollusks like snails and slugs
- Partially undigested fecal matter (poop) of other animals like dogs or wolves.
- Fruits and veggies –like watermelons, apples, kales, and spinach.
- Rodents –for example, rats and mice, are easy to hunt and are a staple food source.
- Other small birds –such as the California condor, are victims of ravens. The California condor faces extinction, and ravens are partially to blame.
- Amphibians –like frogs and salamanders are heavily preyed on by ravens.
- Insects –e.g., ants, termites, and other grubs are in the raven diet.
- Reptiles –such as lizards, geckoes, and chameleons, are included in the raven diet.
- Seeds and grains.
Ravens can further be described as kleptoparasites. They steal already captured and killed prey from other predators. Ravens will follow grey wolves as they hunt down and kill prey and, afterward, steal their meal.
Ravens that nest near sources of human garbage have a higher percentage of waste in their diet. Those that live near roads depend on roadkill as the primary source of food.
Young ravens will call others with a series of loud yells to indulge in a filling meal, usually a carcass. They do so to outnumber adult ravens, so they don’t get chased away while trying to feed.
Although ravens will eat almost anything, some food substances prove toxic to these birds. Ingesting these foods may cause health issues or even death. If you fancy feeding wild birds like ravens, avoid giving them the following:
- Chocolate, sugary, or processed foods –may cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, and even seizures. Ultimately, the bird will end up dead.
- Uncooked beans –have a poison called hemagglutinin that is poisonous to most birds. You should prepare them well before feeding birds.
- Peppers –may cause mild poisoning that may lead to minor stomach upsets and vomiting.
- Onions and garlic – when ingested in large amounts, may cause these birds to die from anemia.
- Salty foods –may cause dehydration in birds, and it is not advisable to offer any bird salty foods, let alone ravens.
- Apple, cherry, and peach seeds –may cause cyanide poisoning that can kill ravens.
Before feeding ravens, it is essential to know that feeding these birds is illegal in some countries and states.
Facts About Ravens
If you find ravens fascinating, here are more facts about them that are sure to blow your mind:
- Did you know ravens can talk and sing? Yes. Ravens can imitate human speech as well as other bird sounds.
- Ravens enjoy playing. When you pay close attention, you’ll observe them play games with sticks while flying.
- Ravens are super intelligent. They will work with their better halves to obtain food. One raven will distract a bird as the other raven swoops to steal the eggs or hatchlings from that nest.
- For centuries, ravens have been kept at the site of the Tower of London to prevent disasters and bring good luck. A Ravenmaster is paid to feed, groom and pluck a feather now and then to prevent them from leaving the sight.
- Ravens can live anywhere. These birds can adapt to various environments worldwide, ranging from urban areas to deserts and even forests.
- The bible mentions the ravens severally, the most iconic being in the book of Genesis. Noah sent the raven to have a look at whether the level of water had reduced.
- In the book of Kings, God commanded ravens to bring bread and meat to prophet Elijah during a drought period.
- Ravens practice a behavior known as anting. They lie on anthills and allow ants to mob their feathers. The purpose of this behavior is unclear, but some scientists speculate that ant secretions act as insecticides for the bird.
- White ravens exist. These birds occur as a result of a pigment condition known as leucism. In addition to being white, they also have blue eyes.
- Ravens use non-vocal signals to communicate, which is similar to human beings using hand gestures. They will point items with their bills to show an object to another bird. This action is identical to humans pointing things with their fingers.
- Young ravens leave their homes to join gangs in their adolescent stage—every parent’s worst nightmare. These juvenile birds will eat and live together until they find their better halves.
- Ravens are empathetic creatures. They will console other ravens that have lost fights, and they also remember birds they like. Ravens remain friendly towards these birds for over long periods.
- However, ravens also hold grudges. They remember the faces of other birds and even people that have been unkind to them. Hence, the name of a flock of ravens, ‘unkindness.’
A lot of people confuse ravens for crows and crows for ravens. Regardless of how closely related, there are differences you could use to set them apart. Some of these features include:
- Ravens are significantly larger than crows. Crows are about the same size as doves
- Ravens beaks are known as bills which are typically thicker and more curved than that of crows.
- Crows have shorter tail feathers than ravens. When extended for flight, the crow’s tailfeathers are fan-shaped, while the raven’s tailfeathers appear wedge-shaped, hence the difference in length.
- Unlike crows, ravens are entirely black from their heads down to their feet.
- Crows usually fly in groups called murders, whereas ravens mostly fly alone or in pairs.
- The raven’s call is deep and croaky in comparison to the crow’s unique cawing sound.
- Crows in the wild will live up to 8 years and possibly longer in captivity. A raven’s lifespan ranges between 25-30 years, but they can sometimes live up to 45 years.
Ravens are among the luckiest animals to ‘walk’ this planet. They may not look like much, but their intelligence plays a significant role in their survival.
One! Don’t judge a book by its cover! Two! What do ravens eat? Whatever they want. And there you have it, lessons learned.