- Published: 05 December 2008
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Cornelia Schumann, age 12, of Monroe, La., for her question:
WHAT DO RAVENS EAT?
Ravens are large black birds that belong to the same family as crows. They live in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, from Greenland to Alaska in the north to Guatemala in the south. They may eat dead fish and frogs, mussels, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, clams, the eggs of waterfowl and young birds.
Three kinds of ravens live in North America: the American raven, the Northern raven and the white necked raven.
The American raven, which.is the most common, lives in the western United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, and in Canada.
The Northern raven resembles the American raven except that it is larger and its bill is longer and heavier. It lives in Alaska, Greenland and as far south as Washington. It has also been found in northern Michigan, New York and Maine, and in the mountains of South Carolina.
The white necked raven lives from Texas to Southern California and from western Kansas to Mexico.
A raven may grow to be 26 inches long and its wings may spread as wide as three feet. Its feathers have a slight purplish luster. There is often a touch of dull green on the belly. The feathers at the neck are usually dull gray at the base.
The raven usually builds its nest on cliffs, though some ravens build nests in trees. The nest is usually built in the late winter. Ravens make their nests of sticks and line them with bark, moss, cattle hair, wool, seaweed, grasses or rabbit fur.
The female raven usually lays from three to eight eggs of a light greenish color with many brown spots.
The raven is one of the first birds mentioned in early history and mythology. It is mentioned in the Bible as the first bird sent out from Noah's Ark.
The black luster of the raven's feathers has given the word "raven" a special meaning. It is used to desribe the color of hair that has a black luster, as in "raven hair."
In the raven's family are the crows, jays, magpies, rooks, jackdaws and fish crows. The live in all parts of the world except New Zealand.
The crow is much smaller than the raven. The common crow is about 18 to 19 inches long. It has glossy black plumage and a strong, sharp pointed bill, Bristly feathers cover the base of the bill.
The crow's feet are strong and well adapted for walking.
The crow does not have a musical voice but it can make a variety of noises and can imitate sounds. Sometimes their owners can teach them to speak a few words like parrots do.
Crows build their nests along hedges or high in treetops. The females lays four to six eggs that are pale bluish green with irregular blotches and spots of brown and gray.