Crows: To Tell a Crow from a Raven

Music
Ambience: American crow “cawing”

From Apollo of ancient Greece to Odin in Norse mythology, crows and ravens have had the ears of the Gods. So, maybe they’re worth listening to. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Candace Savage is the author of “Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World.”

“Ravens are really just crows taken to the extreme: they’re the biggest member of this group. You can tell them apart visually by the beaks; ravens have great big schnozes. I like to think of them as having all the splendors: they’re the ones with the diamond-shaped tails, rather than a fan-shaped tail. But the easiest way to tell them apart is by their voices. It’s the difference between “caw caw” [imitating the crow] and a great array of amazing and, at first hearing, unbird-like sounds – the difference between the crow voice and the raven voice. Ravens, they make those wonderful hollow kind of “gwirking” sounds “quark, quark!””

Ambience: Ravens “quarking”

“Crows are found in every part of the world except South America. And, you know, they’re remarkably similar over that huge span. Now, that having been said, every species obviously is distinct. Their voices tend to be different. Even different populations within the same species can have quite different voices. And people have done experiments, trying to see if crows from Europe would respond to calls from North America and vice versa. And, the crows recognize that these are different languages.”

It turns out that crows have remarkable brains. We’ll hear some more about that in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Crows: To Tell a Crow from a Raven

Crows and ravens may both be large, black birds, but they have very distinct voices.
Air Date:04/12/2010
Scientist:
Transcript:

Music
Ambience: American crow "cawing"

From Apollo of ancient Greece to Odin in Norse mythology, crows and ravens have had the ears of the Gods. So, maybe they're worth listening to. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Candace Savage is the author of "Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World."

"Ravens are really just crows taken to the extreme: they're the biggest member of this group. You can tell them apart visually by the beaks; ravens have great big schnozes. I like to think of them as having all the splendors: they're the ones with the diamond-shaped tails, rather than a fan-shaped tail. But the easiest way to tell them apart is by their voices. It's the difference between "caw caw" [imitating the crow] and a great array of amazing and, at first hearing, unbird-like sounds - the difference between the crow voice and the raven voice. Ravens, they make those wonderful hollow kind of "gwirking" sounds "quark, quark!""

Ambience: Ravens "quarking"

"Crows are found in every part of the world except South America. And, you know, they're remarkably similar over that huge span. Now, that having been said, every species obviously is distinct. Their voices tend to be different. Even different populations within the same species can have quite different voices. And people have done experiments, trying to see if crows from Europe would respond to calls from North America and vice versa. And, the crows recognize that these are different languages."

It turns out that crows have remarkable brains. We'll hear some more about that in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.