Powerfully built with a most intimidating beak and boasting a wingspan of over 80cm and weighing around 800g, the White-necked Raven is the largest member of the crow family occurring in South Africa. They are true omnivores, feeding on carrion, small vertebrates, insects, eggs, fruits and grains, and they will also scavenge human waste (although they’re not as frequently associated with human habitations as others of the family). It has also been observed that they’ll pick up tortoises and drop them from a great height, usually on rocks, to break the shells.
White-necked Ravens are usually encountered in territorial pairs or small family groups, but at times congregate in groups that may number over a hundred at a good food source, especially outside of the breeding season. Their preferred habitat is open hilly and mountainous areas where they nest on cliffs during the spring and early summer. Their large stick nests, lined with fur, wool and grass, are often utilised by other birds once the ravens have deserted it after their own chicks fledged. Clutches contain 2-5 eggs and are incubated by both parents.
White-necked Ravens occur patchily from Uganda and Kenya southwards to South Africa, where they can be found in all our provinces with the exception of Gauteng and the North West. While noting that some populations are declining due to unspecified reasons (though I suspect poisoning is probably a major factor) the IUCN lists the White-necked Raven as being of least concern.