Chihuahuan Raven

Corvus cryptoleucus
Range Map

We once called these birds White-Necked Ravens because the base of the neck feathers are white, not gray like American Crows and Common Ravens. This character is hard to see in the field unless the wind blows aside some neck feathers, or the bird ruffles their neck plumes just right (btw: cryptoleucus translates to “hidden white”). In the gallery below is a picture of a pair with one bird’s feathers parted enough to see the white. Another character is nasal bristle feathers of these birds extends farther down the beak than the Common Raven.

History shows in the late 19th and early 20th century the Chihuahuan Ravens extended their range as far north as Colorado, perhaps because of the wholesale slaughter of bison on the American plains in the late 1800s, creating a food source for these birds to exploit.

A chance meeting at a roadside rest, or Picnic Area, as Texas often calls such places, provided my first photographs of this species. I was on my way home from my first expedition to Texas in May 2020, and having driven from Brownsville most of the day, by the time I reached Laredo, I was beset with weariness. Twenty miles further north I found a picnic area and pulled in for the evening. I spotted a pair of ravens camped on a table there, and slowly drove forward to capture a few images, then backed away, leaving the birds to enjoy their own picnic rest. It was only later that evening, when I looked at the images that I recognised these were Chihuahuan Ravens. I woke early the next morning, hoping the ravens might still be near, but they had flown the coop!

Taxonomists regard the Chihuahuan Raven as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).


7 Photos

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