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Chihuahuan Raven
Corvus cryptoleucus



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae

Physical Characteristics

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).

Geographic Range

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 (Leahy, 1982).

Reproductive Characteristics

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).

Literature Cited

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 pp.

Peterson, R. T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.

Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.


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