Ravens are one of the most widely distributed of all landbirds, occurring as a breeding species across the northern hemisphere from the Arctic south to northern China, North Africa and Central America, wherever their nesting habitat (sites inaccessible to ground predators but near enough to open areas for long-range food gathering) is found. In Europe, though absent from many lowland areas, they are found from north Norway and Iceland south to the Mediterranean.

            In the British Isles, after years of persecution mainly by shooting interests during the 19th century had driven them out of many lowland areas, Ravens gradually recovered in the 20th century as persecution lessened and they spread from their remote strongholds to re-colonise their old haunts. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded a 68% increase in the breeding season distribution in Britain and Ireland since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas and a 79% increase in the winter distribution since the 1981-84 Winter Atlas.

            In Wiltshire, Ravens were known to have been a not uncommon breeding species in the 19th century but were regarded as no more than occasional visitors throughout most of the 20th. There continued to be a scattering of records, mostly in winter but with a few in summer, though there was no evidence of breeding until 1993, when two established pairs were noted, and 1994 when at least one of the pairs certainly nested. Thereafter numbers increased steadily: Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 36 tetrads, with breeding confirmed in eight. WTA2 treated the records as confidential, but records in Hobby showed numbers of pairs increasing from 66 in 2007 to 135 in 2015, with confirmed or probable records of breeding for 87 of them.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:

“1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976: The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser

“1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986: The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser

1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser

Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.

“Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland

WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.

"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.