Bird Database

Common Raven

(Corvus corax)

State of the Birds
At a Glance








Conservation Actions

None identified

Common Raven

(Corvus corax)

Once found across the Northeast from Maine to the Carolinas, the Common Raven was largely extirpated from this region during the 1800s, probably through a combination of persecution and forest clearing. It began to rebound and reoccupy the northern portion of its old range by the middle of the 20th century, and by the 1980s was widespread in New Hampshire except the southeastern third. Now it is found there as well, and even seen regularly along the seacoast.

This recolonization of its historic range was likely facilitated by a combination of reforestation, increased protection, and the raven’s ability to adapt to human-dominated landscapes. For instance, while most New Hampshire nests during the early period of expansion (1970s-1990s) were on cliffs, the species also uses trees, and now that it occurs statewide has taken to man-made structures that combine features of the two. Nests in southern New Hampshire are now just as likely to be on power pylons, water towers, or even buildings. Expansion along the coast in the mid-Atlantic states was facilitated by ravens nesting in old towers used during the reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons.

Considerable research has been done on the social interactions among ravens, often as they relate to foraging and roosting. Large groups often form around reliable food supplies (often carcasses) and birds have specific calls to alert other ravens of nearby food. The same birds that gather at a food source often roost together nearby for the evening while the food lasts. New birds are welcomed into these roosts and feeding groups. Ravens are also famous for their vocal array, consisting of dozens of calls. Their throaty croak is most famous, but other common noises sound like gurgling water, blocks being knocked together, and short screams.

The Common Raven is found across temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and has been important to the cultures of many peoples in this region. It is featured in contexts as diverse as the Bible, Greek and Norse Mythology, Siberian shamanism, Native American folklore, and more modern literature (Edgar Allan Poe, anyone?). In many Western traditions it is associated with death, or at least ill omen, but also sometimes bravery, while ravens are more aligned with creator or trickster archetypes in indigenous cultures. The latter interpretation seems more probable when you watch ravens playing in the wind from some isolated New Hampshire mountaintop.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Common Raven
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count