• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Fan-tailed Raven - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Shailesh Patel
Samburu N.R., Kenya, August 2006
Corvus rhipidurus


46 - 47cm. An unmistakable, small raven:

  • Very short tail, rounded at tip; wing projection goes well beyond tail when sitting
  • Flat crown
  • Small, stubby bill
  • In flight, bat-like appearance with short tail and broad-based wings
  • Plumage black
  • Dark brown eye
  • Black bill and legs

Sexes similar but female averages marginally smaller. Juveniles similar to adult with shorter throat feathers and more rounded wings.

Pair of Fan-tailed Ravens
Photo by yossi
Ein Geddi, near the Dead Sea, Israel, July 2003

Similar species

Brown-necked Raven and Ethiopian Raven both easily distinguished by their longer tails and narrower wings. Thick-billed Raven likewise, and also markedly larger and heavier-billed. Common Raven does not overlap with Fan-tailed Raven.


Sub-Saharan Africa (locally south of Sahara, highlands of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia to east Uganda and Kenya), southern Middle East (north to southern Jordan and southeastern Israel) and the southern and western Arabian Peninsula.
Locally common or abundant.


Clements regards this species as monotypic[1].
Other sources[2] recognize two subspecies:

Formerly sometimes placed in its own genus Rhinocorax.


Gorges, canyons and barren desert cliffs. Seen foraging near oasis and human settlements. From sea-level up to 2400 m, sometimes up to 4000 m.


Usually seen in pairs or small flocks.


Omnivorous; feeds on grain, berries, dates, insects and carrion. Takes also eggs or nestlings out of nests and scavenges around human settlements. Sometimes rides on goats and camels in search for ectoparasits.


Breeding season differs through range. A solitary nester. The nest is a flimsy structure made of twigs and placed in a crevice on a cliff face. Very rarely in a tree or a building. Lays 2 - 6 eggs. Sometimes paratisitised by Great Spotted Cuckoo.
A sedentary species with some dispersal in winter.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

Recommended Citation

External Links