Ravens are one of many birds of Catalina Island

Catalina Island has long been a mecca for birders. The island provides a unique confluence of oak woodlands, shore habitat and resting spot for migratory species. More than two hundred species have been spotted on the island and several dramatic aviators – including bald eagles – live here year round.

One of the most visible – and vocal – resident birds of Catalina Island are common ravens. Omnivorous and highly intelligent, ravens have adapted and flourished on the island, where their distinctive qwark calls can be heard from dawn to dusk. Unlike their smaller cousins, the crows, ravens spend most of their time with their mate and the bonded pairs are seen together rather than in flocks.

Crows are also seen on the island – especially in Avalon. Both species are part of the corvid family, widely considered the most intelligent of the bird species. Telling the two apart can be a challenge to a casual observer, but for most birders, biologists and naturalists, the difference is obvious. Crows are smaller and travel in flocks. Ravens have a thicker bill and a more stout body. In the sky, crows have a blunt tail, while ravens have a diamond shaped tail.

Whichever of the two species you are seeing, taking a moment to appreciate the birds of Catalina Island is well worth your time.