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A photo of a Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)
Chihuahuan Raven

Chihuahuan Raven

Corvus cryptoleucus

The Chihuahuan Raven, Corvus cryptoleucus, is a member of the crow family, Corvidae, bearing a resemblance to the common raven but with dimensions akin to the carrion crow. Measuring 44–51 cm (17–20 in) in length, this bird is cloaked in an all-black plumage that, under the caress of sunlight, reveals a rich purple-blue sheen. Among its kin, it is considered one of the smaller raven species.

Identification Tips

Distinguishing the Chihuahuan Raven can be a delightful challenge. Look for its heavy bill and the unique extension of nasal bristles that reach about two-thirds down the bill's top—further than any other species within the genus Corvus. When the wind ruffles its feathers, you may catch a glimpse of the white-ish bases at the neck, reminiscent of the white-necked raven of East Africa. Its eyes are set with dark brown irises, and the bill, legs, and feet are a stark black.

Habitat

This raven favors the landscapes of the Southwestern and Midwestern United States and northern Mexico. It thrives in open areas where trees and large shrubs provide ample opportunities for nesting.

Distribution

The Chihuahuan Raven's range extends across southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, western Oklahoma, and southern and western Texas, dipping into northern Mexico.

Behaviour

The Chihuahuan Raven is a versatile forager, dining on a smorgasbord that includes cereal grains, insects, invertebrates, small reptiles, carrion, cactus fruits, eggs, and nestlings. It is known to nest in trees, large shrubs, and occasionally old buildings. The species lays eggs later in the year, around May, to synchronize with the abundance of insects in its arid environment. Both males and females share the duties of incubation, feeding the young, and defending their territory. In rare instances, they may even collaborate with outsiders to fend off predators.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Chihuahuan Raven includes "pruk-pruk" sounds and a variety of croaks at slightly higher pitches than the common raven. While capable of mimicry, such behavior is more commonly observed in captivity than in the wild.

Breeding

The breeding season sees the construction of nests where 5–7 eggs are laid. The timing is strategic, allowing the hatchlings to benefit from the insect population in their arid habitat. Both parents are actively involved in the incubation and rearing of their young.

Similar Species

The Chihuahuan Raven can be mistaken for other raven species, particularly the Australian raven, due to its size and plumage. However, its distinctive nasal bristles and the white bases of its neck feathers set it apart.

Diet and Feeding

A generalist feeder, the Chihuahuan Raven's diet encompasses grains, insects, reptiles, carrion, fruits, and even the eggs and young of other birds. Its feeding habits are well adapted to the variety of its habitat.

Conservation status

The Chihuahuan Raven is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

Chihuahuan Raven Sounds


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