Bird of the Week, October 28, 2011
Common Raven


Common Raven, Clipart.com

 


Clad in basic black, the clever, versatile raven is a survivor in almost every way.  Long a symbol of death and ill-omen in the Western world (popularized in Edgar Allan Poe's poem, 'The Raven'),  this bird is also regarded by many cultures as a trickster who always comes out ahead of the game. Their intelligence is unrivaled - they have large brains, and demonstrate an uncanny ability to solve problems, learning by trial and error and imitation. They have been shown to be capable of learning how to pull up food suspended on a string, and are one of only a few species that make their own toys, breaking off twigs to play with socially.

 

More solitary than crows, ravens usually travel in mated pairs. Male and female birds mate for life. Common Ravens often follow predators to scavenge from a kill; although they prefer meat and carrion, they will eat almost anything.

 

These birds are acrobatic flyers and perform long glides, swift turns, barrel rolls, and even fly upside down.  Ravens “talk” constantly; their vocabulary is quite large and includes croaks, squawks, knocks, gurgles, whistles and hoarse screams, but their most celebrated call is…

 

… “Nevermore!”

 

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Photo: Common Raven, Clipart.com; Range Map, ABC