We are all familiar with the “Crows” which are so much a part of our daily lives in the parklands. It would surprise many to know that the crow we see in the park is not in fact a Crow but the Australian Raven. The Australian Raven is often maligned as a mere scavenger on our rubbish, but it is classed among the most intelligent of birds.
Australia has six native species of Corvids, three crows and three ravens, all of which appear very similar and can only be identified by the finer points such as size, call and behavior. For example, a crow can be identified by having white fluff at the base of the feathers, while the raven has grey fluff.
Fortunately, for identification, only the Australian Raven is found in Centennial Park, and Sydney generally. Like all Australian Corvids it is completely black with a stout black bill and a white eye with blue inner ring in the adults. It has feathers on the throat, called hackles, which can give the appearance of a beard, especially when the Raven is calling. Immature Ravens have brown eyes, becoming lighter in colour as they age, and less developed throat hackles, but can be a similar size to adults.
The Australian Raven has been known to eat grain, fruit and our discarded bread and vegetable rubbish, but it is predominantly a carnivore. The bulk of it's diet is from insects, but can be seen eating small reptiles and chicks and eggs from bird nests.
Australian Ravens do not reach maturity until about three years of age and breeding begins from late winter into spring. On average the female will lay up to 5 eggs andincubate tem for 3 weeks.
Australian Ravens are found across the eastern half of Australia, from just below Cape York in Queensland down to Victoria and southern South Australia. A sub-species population occupies the isolated south-west of Western Australia. Strangely, while they are the only corvids in Sydney, they are largely replaced by Torresian Crows in Brisbane, and the Little Raven in Melbourne and Adelaide. It has not made its way across the Bass Strait to Tasmania.
Located in the Parklands:
Australian Ravens are breeding residents in the parklands and can be seen all year. Small flocks can be seen passing over, or gathering around ponds and playing fields looking for picnic leftovers, as well as dead or injured birds or bats. They play an important role in cleaning up the parklands.
To find the residents of the park territories you need to look for Ravens going back and forth to tall trees in the park, either carrying sticks for nesting, or food for nestlings. Despite the size of the birds and their nests, they can be very difficult to locate in the tree.
This information was curated by a team of passionate Centennial Parklands volunteers. Find out more about our volunteer programs here.