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Here at SciShow Kids we’re gearing up for the spookiest time of year! And today, we're going to learn all about ravens! Ravens may give you the creepy crawlies, but they have some awesome skills and behaviors that make them very clever animals.
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SOURCES:
http://www.audubon.org/news/how-tell-raven-crow
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/similar-species-crows-and-ravens/
http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-raven
http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/crow_vs_raven.html
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/ravens-discover-the-brainpower-of-the-bird-in-black/1507/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129112319.html
Jessi: Oh, I’m glad you’re here! Because I want to tell you what I learned today! When I was outside this morning, I spotted a big bird that looked like this. It was big and black from the tip of its beak to the tip of its feet. I wasn’t sure what kind it was, so I decided to ask for some help.

My friend and bird expert Dino said the bird I saw is called a raven. I didn’t know a lot about ravens, so Squeaks and I went to the library to see what we could find out. And it turns out that ravens are some seriously cool birds! So Squeaks and I thought we’d share a few fun facts that we learned about ravens! Are you ready?

Number One: Crows and ravens are not the same! Crows are very common black birds that are found all over the world, and ravens are often mistaken for them. But they’re not the same! If you look really closely at them, you’ll be able to spot a few key differences.

First, ravens are bigger. They have bigger bodies... bigger beaks... and bigger wings. A raven’s wing span -- that’s the distance from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other wing -- is well over a meter, while a crow’s is usually about three quarters of a meter, or less. And ravens weigh about as much as a small dog, that's twice as much as crows weigh.

Another way to tell these two birds apart is to look at their feathers. Many ravens have feathers around their necks that are big and kind of stick out. It kind of looks like the raven is wearing a fancy collar! But crows don’t have these big feathers, so their necks look smoother.

And it’s not just their neck feathers that are different! If you’re lucky enough to see a black bird flying overhead, take a good look at its tail feathers. A raven’s tail feathers make a shape that is pointy, like part of a triangle. But, a crow’s tail feathers are much more round, like part of a circle.

And one final way to tell these birds apart is to simply use your ears. Ravens and crows make different sounds. A crow’s call sounds like a high-pitched “caw,” like this. [Crow caw plays] Ravens have a lower call. It sounds like more of a croak, or even a bark, like this. [Raven's call plays] Pretty neat, right? So, even if you can’t see them, you can still tell them apart.

Okay, now on to... Fact number two about ravens: They’ll eat just about anything. Ravens are definitely not members of the picky eaters club! Like people, ravens are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and other animals.

Normally, ravens eat fruit and nuts, as well as insects and small animals like lizards. But some of their favorite foods are things that you’d definitely NOT want to see on your plate. Things like food scraps from your garbage, or the remains of dead animals, and even animal poop all make tasty meals for a hungry raven. That might sound kind of gross, but by eating these things, ravens are doing a really important job... they're helping to clean up the environment.

And here’s something else I didn’t know about ravens: Number Three: They're super smart. You might have heard that some animals... like dolphins or chimpanzees... are pretty smart. Well, you can add ravens to the “smart animals” list.

We know ravens are pretty smart, because they can do many things that you and I can do! For example, if I want to show Squeaks where my crayons are, I can use my fingers to point at them. And ravens can point, too! They don’t have fingers, but they can use their beaks to point at something that they think is interesting, so they can show it to other ravens.

Ravens can also use tools! Not the kinds of tools that you and I use to fix things around the house, but they can find things that they use to help them to do a job. For example, say there are insects hiding deep inside a dead tree. A raven can find a long, curved stick and poke it around in there to pull out its tasty snack!

And another thing that I learned about ravens? Fun Fact Number Four: They’re really good at imitating all kinds of sounds. You’ve probably heard that many kinds of parrots can imitate sounds that they hear, and even say words. Well, ravens can imitate sounds, too! They can learn to say short phrases... and will even imitate noises like toilets flushing, or car engines starting. Wild ravens have even been known to imitate a wolf’s howl or a fox’s bark to scare away other animals that might want to harm them. That’s pretty clever!

And there you have it. Four things that I learned about ravens... and now you know them too! Thanks for joining us on SciShow Kids! Is there an animal that you’d like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below, or send us an email to kids@theSciShow.com! And we’ll see you next time!