Latin name: Corvus corax

Family: Corvidae

The raven is the largest member of the crow family found in Britain and with its all-black plumage, long wedged-shaped tail and large head is easy to identify. Even when the raven cannot be seen, such as when it is flying overhead, it can still be recognised by its distinctive "kronk, kronk" call.

Ravens pair for life but don’t usually begin to breed until they are at least three or four years old. Pair bonding between ravens often involves a spectacular aerial display as the birds tumble, roll and dive over potential nest sites. If left undisturbed, ravens will use the same nest site year after year and this can lead to the presence of huge nests which are easy to spot.

The Yorkshire Dales is a popular habitat for ravens and many local place names such as Raven Scar and Raven Crag give us an indication of where ravens historically bred. In the past, this species has suffered from heavy persecution but in recent years, numbers have increased with nesting attempts reported at 16 different nesting sites in the Yorkshire Dales. The majority of known nesting sites are in the south of the National Park but there are an increasing number of records from northern areas. It is not clear whether these relate to non-breeding birds, possibly from Cumbria, or whether there are a number of yet undiscovered breeding pairs.

At risk?

The raven population does seem to have stabilised in the last few years and it is not clear why they no longer nest at a number of formerly occupied sites and have not occupied other potentially suitable nesting sites.

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Still summer’s song beats in my blood Alan Hartley

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