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Chihuahuan Raven

Corvus cryptoleucus


The Chihuahuan Raven has the general shape of a raven but is about the size of a crow, with a length of 17-20 inches and a wingspan of 41-43 inches. The plumage is all black, with a rich purple-blue gloss that is only obvious in good light. The base of the neck feathers are whitish, but that white can only be seen when the feathers get ruffled in a strong wing or when the bird is displaying. The bill, legs, and feet are black. Both sexes are similar in size and color. Juveniles are similar to adults, except for less gloss and fluffier head feathers.

Chihuahuan Raven

Distribution and Habitat

This raven is found in the southwest and midwestern United States, from Kansas and Colorado through Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona, into northern Mexico. It inhabits arid and semi-arid grasslands, scrub, and yucca flats, generally avoiding both wooded areas and true deserts.


The courtship of Chihuahuan ravens has never been observed, nor has a specific breeding period been determined. It is believed, however, that most breeding occurs after the summer rains begin, when food supplies are at their highest.

The nest site can be a tree, shrub, large yucca, or even a man-made structure, from 5 to 40 feet above the ground. It is believed that the female is solely responsible for building the nest, which is a bulky mass of sticks and thorny twigs, lined with grass, bark fibers, animal hair, with debris such as rags, paper, and/or barbed wire worked in. Some breeding pairs may maintain two nests and use them in alternate years.

The female lays up to eight pale olive to gray-green, blotched with brown and lavender, eggs. It is believed that both parents share in incubation duties, which last 18-21 days. Both parents also provide food for the nestlings, which can leave the nest at about one month of age.


As are other ravens, the Chihuahuan is an omnivore. Its diet consists primarily of animal matter, including large insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, rodents, lizards, carrion, and the eggs and young of other birds, supplemented by grain, seeds, berries, and fruits, including cactus fruit. Although it usually forages on the ground, it has also been known to search from a vantage point above ground. Flocks often gather at garbage dumps, and they will also "patrol" along highways looking for road kills.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
family Corvidae
genus & species Corvus cryptoleucus

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Birds >> Order Passeriformes

This page was last updated on May 01, 2017.