Crow vs Magpie vs Raven

Birds are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on the planet. Crows, magpies, and ravens are all in the same family, called Corvidae. You will often hear these birds called corvids for short.

Crow vs Magpie vs Raven - What Are The Differences?

Corvids Are Known For Their Intelligence

The Corvidae family of birds are some of the most intelligent in the world. This family includes crows, magpies, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, and other species, totaling 133.

Amazingly, this family of birds demonstrates self-awareness during mirror tests. Crows have even made tools and used them effectively, something that was once thought only achievable by humans.

Although they have small brains, corvids have only a slightly smaller brain-to-body ratio than humans. Corvids are found worldwide, but not in the polar ice caps or the tip of South America.

Ravens, Magpies, and Crows are all similar and in the same family, but they do have differences. Learning about the distinctions between these fascinating birds will help you understand their behaviors better.

Crow standing in the grass

What Are the Differences Between Crows, Magpies, and Ravens?

Many people confuse these birds, especially ravens and crows, because of their similar attributes. There are some notable differences we can discuss to learn more about these birds and how they live.

Differences in Appearance

Out of the three birds, magpies are the most distinguishable because of their white-tipped wings and blue iridescence. Ravens and crows are a little more challenging to differentiate, but the following facts will help you tell them apart.

  • Ravens are larger than crows. Ravens range in size from 24 to 27 inches in length, while crows typically only grow to 17 inches in length.
  • Because ravens are bigger, they have a larger wingspan than crows, over a foot wider.
  • Ravens have larger beaks that slightly curve. Crows have smaller, straight beaks.
  • While in flight, you can easily tell the difference between ravens and crows. Ravens have a wedge-shaped tail, while crows have a fan-shaped tail.
  • While flying, ravens soar, and crows flap their wings almost continuously.
  • Male ravens have a patch of ruff under their throats, while crows are smooth.
magpie with sky background

Differences in Crows, Magpies, and Ravens in Culture

Unfortunately, these black birds are often tied to evil, making them unpopular for many. Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Raven” and is often associated with the blackbird. Ravens and crows are both associated with the occult, but these birds are just birds and have no spiritual power or wickedness.

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Magpies, on the other hand, are highly celebrated in Chinese culture because they are believed to be an omen of good fortune. When Chinese people hear magpies calling, they consider it a good luck sign. In fact, the Chinese name for magpies translates to “bird of happiness”.

Differences in Intelligence

All three birds are highly intelligent, but some are more intelligent than others. Each of these birds has the ability to recognize faces. Crows and magpies are not quite as clever as ravens.

Crows, especially, lack the problem-solving skills of ravens. Ravens reason more and calculate their moves, while crows react more instinctively.

Differences in Behavior

You might think crows, magpies, and ravens are all best buds, after all, they are from the same family. Just like human family members do not always get along, birds may not either.

Crows and ravens are enemies and usually intolerant of one another. For this reason, you will likely find there are not many ravens in urban settings.

Crows will gather together and make a raven leave. It is their natural instinct to stay away from ravens because the crow is trying to protect their eggs and territory.

When it comes to the behavior of crows and ravens, crows are almost always more aggressive, especially when in groups. Crows are most likely to attack ravens during the mating season.

Crows also do not get along with magpies. From territories to eggs, crows and magpies often get into fights, with crows being the more aggressive of the two. Like ravens, crows are more likely to attack magpies when it is breeding season.

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Raven flying above water

Similarities Between Crows, Ravens, and Magpies

Because they are from the same family, these birds do have similarities. It is important to remember that, though they are from the same family, they are different breeds.

Mating Style

Each of these birds mates for life. They will fly in flocks of around 200 to meet a bird of the opposite sex. Once a magpie, crow, or raven meets their mate, they stay with them for life and develop a territory. They stay within a 20-40 mile radius for the rest of their lives.

Magpies, ravens, and crows do not interbreed, despite being from the same family. Magpies only mate with other magpies, and ravens and crows do the same. Aggressive behavior against one another also prevents these birds from interbreeding.

Crows, Magpies, and Ravens Talk!

You may be surprised to learn crows, magpies, and ravens can talk. These birds can mimic other birds and human speech so accurately that people believe they are hearing a human talk.

Crows, magpies, and ravens are highly intelligent and mischievous. They are not harmful birds, but they will protect their nests of eggs or offspring.

Should you accidentally come close to one of these bird’s nests, they may lunge at your head. Injuries are unlikely, but their beaks can cause pain. Moving away from the area will stop the attack.

These Amazing Birds Are More Than Meets the Eye

In addition to sharing their food with others, mourning their dead, and mating for life, magpies, crows, and ravens are also amazing creatures because they bring gifts.

These birds sometimes make friends with humans and will often leave them gifts. If you ever have an interaction with one of these incredible creatures, you will be forever changed.

raven landing on a tree branch

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