Can the raven bird talk?

Image of a black raven bird.

Vocalizations and Learning Ability

The raven’s “vocabulary” is exceptionally large and varied.

In addition to the most recognizable, deep, penetrating croak—which is understood to be a signal of perceived disturbance—its vocalizations have been said to display tenderness, happiness, surprise, excitement, and anger.

Ravens can also imitate the calls of other birds within their voice range, especially performing a realistic impersonation of a crow.

The extent to which ravens can be taught to speak has been a matter of some dispute.

However, Candace Savage, in her book Bird Brains, documents accounts of tame ravens being taught to imitate human speech.

Legend has it that the poet Edgar Allan Poe acquired a raven and painstakingly trained it to utter in its somber croak the word “nevermore,” inspiring his famous poem The Raven, which describes “a young man mourning the death of his beloved.”

There is little dispute about the raven’s ability to learn.

If birds could be ranked for intelligence, it seems the raven would be at the top of the list.

Field biologist Bernd Heinrich notes that the raven “is assumed to be the brains of the bird world.”

He says that “when put to the test, ravens display insight.”

In one experiment a raven figured out in six hours how to get a chunk of meat that was suspended from a string, while crows were still working on the problem 30 days later.

Ravens have even been taught to count.

Their savvy may contribute to their longevity, for ravens live more than 40 years in the wild and up to 70 years in captivity.

This bird is widely known, and it is respected by those aware of its special qualities.

It can be found in legends of people throughout the world.

It has been made famous by writers of the past and present.