Little Raven

The Little Raven (Corvus mellori) is only seen the south-eastern parts of Australia, but does overlap with territories of Australian Raven and Little Crow. All Australian corvids are glossy black, with white eyes at maturity. The down feathers at the base of body and neck feathers are ashy-brown in Ravens, but snow white in Crows (hence identification is easy if the bird is in hand!)

The Little Raven is a slightly smaller bird than the Australian Raven. The Little Raven does not have the long throat feathers like the Australian Raven but does have a small food pouch under the base of the bill, giving it a similar silhouette shape. Little Ravens are nomadic and omnivorous, and hence follow areas of plenty, e.g. locust/grasshopper plagues and harvesting areas for spilt grain. Its bill is more slender than that of the Australian Raven, which feeds more on carrion and small animals.

Their flight is agile with rapid wing action. The Little Raven's wings are more tapered and with less fingers at the tip than the Australian Raven. The call and actions of the Little Raven are diagnostic: Little Ravens show only a small bulge of short throat hackle when calling and when perched, it gives quick upward flicks with both wings with each note of its harsh rapid Kar, Kar, Kar but with no long drawn out terminal descending note like that of the Australian Raven.

They breed from August to December, generally a month later than the Australian Raven, and are semi-colonial. It has a substantial nest of sticks, lined with grass, bark, wool and felted together in a thick mat, in outer foliage no more than 10m high anchored on several slight branches, often in the outer canopy of a light tree fork. There are four or five eggs.

There are no records of Little Ravens nesting at Urrbrae Wetlands but nests have been sighted at the nearby Brownhill Creek Recreation Park. They are commonly heard and seen at the Urrbrae Wetland and the surrounding areas. In particular, they often frequent local schools scavenging childrens' discarded lunches. (Contributed by Jo G and Wen-Ai).