Common Ravens make many different kinds of calls varying from a low, gurgling croak to harsh grating sounds and shrill alarm calls. Scientists have placed their vocalizations into as many as 33 different categories based on sound and context. The most commonly heard is the classic gurgling croak, rising in pitch and seeming to come from the back of the throat. It’s much deeper and more musical than a crow’s simple, scratchy caw. Ravens make this call often. It’s audible for more than a mile, and ravens often give it in response to other ravens they hear in the distance.
Among their other calls, ravens make short, repeated, shrill calls when chasing predators or trespassers, and deep, rasping calls when their nests are disturbed. Dominant females sometimes make a rapid series of 12 or so loud knocking sounds that lasts about a second. Common Ravens can mimic other birds, and when raised in captivity can even be taught words.
Look for ravens anywhere from the outskirts of towns (particularly landfills) to foothill forests or scrub, and out to the deep woods of mountains and national parks. If they’re around you’re likely to hear a deep gurgling croak from far overhead: look for a long-tailed black bird flying on long wings and easy, graceful wingbeats. When driving, keep an eye out for them on the roadsides, gathered at roadkill, or flying straight down the center line on the lookout.