About 19-21 inches (48-53 cm) long. Its feathers appear glossy
black; however, if the feathers are ruffled, white feather bases
will be seen on the neck and breast. The tail is somewhat wedge
shaped. The bill, feet, and legs are black. Three toes face
forward and one rearward (Peterson, 1990). The feet are well
adjusted to walking (Leahy, 1982).
Corvus cryptoleucus lives in arid and semi-arid grassland,
scrub, and desert areas, especially where yucca and mesquite are
present (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).
This species is a resident of northern Sonora, south-central and
southeastern Arizona, central and northeastern New Mexico,
northeastern Colorado, and south-central Nebraska south to
Michoacan, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas; east to
western Kansas, western Oklahoma, and south and central Texas
(American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).
The Chihuahuan Raven is omnivorous, preferring insects, small
vertebrates, eggs, carrion, garbage, fruit, and grain. No green
plants are eaten. They typically gather in large foraging flocks
Nests are large, bulky, stick cups plastered with mud or dung.
They are lined with bark strips, fine plant matter, wool, or
hair. Trees, shrubs, rock ledges, and abandoned buildings are
typical nest sites (Leahy, 1982). The female lays a clutch of 3-8
eggs that are pale to moderately dark green or blue. These eggs
are sparsely to very densely speckled and splotched with olive to
dark brown (Leahy, 1982).
The Chihuahuan Raven formerly was known as the White-Necked
Raven. The call resembles a hoarse kraak (Peterson,
1990). Ravens are thought to be intelligent birds since they are
able to recognize groupings of 6-7, even though they are unable
to "count" (Fisher and Peterson, 1977). These birds, because of
their size, blackness, and apparent intelligence, are often used
as objects in superstitions, embodiments of deities, and literary
metaphors (Leahy, 1982).
American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North
American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.
Fisher, J. and R. T. Peterson. 1977. World of birds. Crescent
Books, New York, 191 pp.
Leahy, C. 1982. The birdwatcher's companion: an encyclopedic
handbook of North American birdlife. Hill and Wang, New York, 917
Peterson, R. T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.
Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.