Common Raven

Pair of ebony common ravens
Pair of Common Ravens.

NPS/Neal Herbert


Corvus corax
Family: Corvidae

Here is the greatest character in the boreal forest, a judgement that may well transcend all cultural predisposition. What the raven has is a gift of cleverness and a potent ego, combined with audacious wit. – Richard Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven

The largest bodied songbird and one of Alaska’s most ubiquitous and conspicuous birds, the Common Raven is well known for its intelligence, adaptability, and raucous nature. Its loud and sometimes whimsical vocalizations as well as aerobatic antics make this ebony bird hard to ignore. Cleverness and curiosity have no doubt earned ravens a place in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. In the mythology of many Alaska Native cultures, the Great Raven created the universe and commands respect. However, as much deference as Raven receives, he is also considered a great trickster. Koyukon Athabascan people call the Great Raven, Dotson’sa and Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska who define their ancestral lineage by the Raven or Eagle clan. In Alaska, no matter where you go, chances are good you will meet someone who has a story to tell about ravens.
A map showing the abundance of common ravens in North America
Common Raven abundance in North America.

Fink, D., T. Auer, A. Johnston, M. Strimas-Mackey, O. Robinson, S. Ligocki, W. Hochachka, C. Wood, I. Davies, M. Iliff, L. Seitz. 2020. eBird Status and Trends, Data Version: 2019; Released: 2020. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.




More Information


Backensto, S. A. (2010). Common ravens in Alaska's North Slope oil fields: an integrated study using local knowledge and science (M.Sc.Thesis, University of Alaska Fairbanks).

Boarman, W. I. and B. Heinrich (2020). Common Raven (Corvus corax), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Tlingit & Haida - About Us - History (

Nelson, R. K. (1983). Make prayers to the raven: A Koyukon view of the northern forest. University of Chicago Press.

Last updated: April 29, 2021

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