The Suitcase Lady

Ravens

October 30, 2018, 9:47 pm

The moon is bright, the nights are chill: It’s the perfect time to speak of ravens. These impressive birds, along with crows, magpies and jays, are members of the corvid family. All of them are “the top of the line” of bird evolution.

People seldom have ambivalent feelings about ravens. Down through the ages, they either have been  loved and revered or vilified and feared. A central figure in northern North American folk mythology, Raven is featured in many creation myths. The Haida tribe believes Raven chanced on a big clamshell with tiny people inside and freed them to enjoy his world. In many tales he is a trickster, in others he helps his people to survive.

In Norse myths, Celtic goddesses often took the form of a raven in battle. And Odin, the main god, had two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), who flew around the world all day and returned at night to report on what was happening.

Meanwhile, in France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests and crows were the souls of wicked nuns. The Swedish, on the other hand, thought that ravens who croaked at night were the lost souls of murdered people who did not have Christian burials.

Being a lover of ravens and truth, I feel compelled to offer some scientific facts about these magnificent birds.

  • Ravens have a 4 foot wingspan and are 2 feet from head to tail. They are about the same size as a red tailed hawk.
  • Ravens are highly adaptable, living in diverse habitats, tundras, deserts, mountains and forests.
  • Ravens are not fussy eaters. Almost everything is on their menu including carrion and garbage.
  • Ravens rate alongside chimpanzees and dolphins in intelligence. They have been seen stealing fish by pulling fishermen’s lines out of ice holes or dropping clams on highways to have cars crack them open.
  • Ravens are mimics and can copy our speech and other animal vocalizations.  They can also imitate other sounds such as cars running or toilets flushing.
  • Ravens mate for life and hang out as pairs. Teenage ravens live in gangs until they are ready to pair off with a mate.
  • Ravens, unlike crows, love to soar. They can also somersault in flight and fly upside down.
  • And lastly, a piece of good news. Raven populations in North America are stable or raising with a global breeding population of 20 million. These smart and adaptable birds have learned to live beside the world’s most overpopulated species.

 

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