At a distance, starlings look black. In summer they are purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they are brown, covered in brilliant white spots. Starlings are boisterous, loud, and they travel in large groups (often with blackbirds and grackles).
Crow look-alike birds are common ravens, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds, western jackdaws, pied currawongs, western rooks, black-billed magpies, alpine choughs, European starlings, and more.
Ravens are one of the most distinctive birds in North America. In general, they are very large and entirely black just like crows. They can be found across the Northern Hemisphere with common ravens living in areas such as California, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and Scotland.
Raven (Corvus corax)
They have thick necks with shaggy throat feathers and a thick, black bill.
Crows and ravens are large black birds found throughout North America, and they can be hard to tell apart. The best clue for identification is usually the voice, but the species differ in some other subtle ways, too.
Ravens have bigger, curvier beaks relative to crows. While both species have bristles at the base of the beak, the raven’s are noticeably longer. Its throat feathers are also quite shaggy. Common Ravens are much less common than American Crows in the Eastern United States.
The black beak merely signifies it is a first winter male and it normally changes to yellow between Dec and April, so a black beak doesn’t last too long after the bird gets its first adult plumage.
Both sexes have the characteristic white head and tail, yellow beaks and yellow eyes upon maturity. Young eagles, called juveniles, are uniformly brown and larger in size than adults due to longer wing and tail feathers.
Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they’ve been slightly stretched. They’re taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens.
European Starlings are found all over the world. This type of bird likes to live in cities, towns, parks, and woodlands with trees or shrubs. They have black iridescent plumage and yellow bill.
In summer starlings have yellow bills and pale spots on their backs, which blackbirds, cowbirds, and grackles never have. In the winter starlings are covered in bright white spots that these other species lack.
The starling’s beak also undergoes some changes throughout the year. The nearer the breeding season, the more sex hormones the starling produces. This ensures that the beak goes from black in winter to yellow-white during mating time. This color change also helps distinguish males from females.
Rusty Blackbirds are larger and chunkier than European Starlings. They also have a yellow eye whereas European Starlings have a dark eye.
Depending on the culture, Blackbird Spirit may be welcome as a good omen or the messenger of bad news. The dark wings of Blackbird give it associations with the Otherworld and the great Mysteries that haunt human souls; this also means it can fly as a messenger of death.
Ravens are the larger of the two, with wingspans around 45 inches. Crows have smaller wingspans, with bodies around the size of pigeons. Crows and ravens are both very vocal.
The raven’s lustrous feathers also have a blue or purplish iridescence. The common raven (C. corax) is the largest of the perching birds: it reaches a length of up to 66 cm (26 inches) and has a wingspan of more than 1.3 metres (4 feet).
“To many, ravens symbolize death or bad fortune to come, but to others they symbolize rebirth and starting anew, serving as a positive sign,” says Dr. Kim. In Norse, Celtic, and Druid mythology, crows and ravens are widely viewed as beacons of intelligence.
Crows have a subtle iridescent sheen to their feathers, whereas most grackle species have iridescence that borders on dazzling blue. Female grackles aren’t quite as flashy as the males. In most species, female grackles sport dull brown plumage. Conversely, both male and female crows have the same black-colored plumage.
Ravens are quite vigorous at defending their young and are usually successful at driving off perceived threats. They attack potential predators by flying at them and lunging with their large bills. Humans are occasionally attacked if they get close to a raven nest, though serious injuries are unlikely.
Ravens have long, pointed wings in flight and a wedge-shaped tail. They make croaking or scratchy vocalizations, unlike the distinctive high-pitched “caw” of a crow. Grackles have slender bodies and longer tails. Their calls sound like a rusty gate.
Distinctive Physical Traits. The crow is an all-rounder black-colored bird, from its eyes to its bills down to the feet. In Blackbirds, however, you are likely to find a distinctive slight tinge of color, sometimes on the wing bar, eyes, or even the beak.