We have all seen the big black birds hopping on the ice or soaring around our forest and fields. Which ones are crows, and which are Ravens? Edgar Allen Poe the famous Maryland poet, saw them as Ravens, “never more.” This is what the Ravens NFL team is named after. To many native peoples, these black birds have other symbolism.
The Crow Indians are actually the “Ravens”, but the names were confused during translation. Early French translators identified the tribe as “People of the crow.” In Hidatsa, the language of the Sioux, the tribe was known as the “children of the large beaked bird”, which was the Raven, not the smaller crow. The tribe is also known as Absaroka.
Both crows and ravens are Corvidae species. These birds, along with jays, have larger forebrains. This allows them to make noises of other birds, critters, and even humans. They see more details, color, and different light levels. The 2 species of Ravens are twice as big as crows and behave differently. Crows thrive in flocks or “murders” while Ravens are more solitary.
Crows migrate when Ravens stay in the same areas. They breed at different times. Ravens can live twice as long as crows. These birds are opportunistic feeders and breeders. They often nest in other bird nests rather than to make their own. Food is where you find it and scavenging is common.
There is mixed symbolism with crows and ravens. Overall, the black color means death, or darkness. To some tribes, the Raven is seen as the Creator, teacher, protector, or the keeper of secrets.
When we spot a crow or raven, some feel it is a sign that we need guidance. Our emotions are in conflict between right and wrong. The spirit of the Raven can help pull you through the darkness and into the light.
For some, Ravens and Crows are the same. They are just the noisy black birds that eat roadkill. For others, they are mythical feathered friends that help us fly through life.
Caw, caw, caw!