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The Northern Raven – Curiosity on the Wing

January 5, 2013
acrobatic raven flight in silhouette

acrobatic raven flight in silhouette

Ravens are amazing.  I have been lucky to catch moments of just how amazing they are.  I  once spent part of a spring day watching a number of ravens tumbling and flying in the air, dropping and catching a nut in mid-air.  They kept the game of catch  going for minutes at a time. I used to take my old shepherd Miska running up a snowy logging road and one winter a young raven took to following us. Really – the raven would appear and follow – flying and calling from tree to tree along our route for many of the winter days. I think it was curious – flying along side us for short distances.

catch and drop - ravens at play

catch and drop – ravens at play

My big shepherd Max is tied on a line-run and just the other day two large ravens were perched on the ground just within his reach. He would feint a lunge and then bark and they would fly up briefly and settle on the snow again – still just within reach.

Raven calling

Raven calling

two young Ravens.  One is playing with a stick

Two young Ravens. One is playing with a stick

Some friends and I were camping a couple of summers ago and a young raven came and perched in a tree above our campsite. It took to dropping Saskatoon Berries on Max’s head. Max would jump and bark and the raven ignored the dog – until Max looked away. Then another Saskatoon would drop on the dog. The raven did not waste all of the berries – it enjoyed a healthy number of the berries as a meal.  It was not just my imagination that the raven was watching us out of curiosity.  And yes, perhaps out of hope for a meal or two.

A curious young raven at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

A curious young raven at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

I was watching young ravens and gulls tussling over dead Kokanee Salmon this fall. Two young ravens were spending time examining an old stump – peeking underneath, poking and pulling slivers from the wood. One would explore and the other would watch and eventually join in the excavation.

riding the Shelter Bay Ferry rails

riding the Shelter Bay Ferry rails

Squatting by a river with lots of rotting fish watching gulls and ravens may not sound like a great way to spend your time.   The fish stank and really, ravens are not ranked among the  “sexy” kind of animals. But there is also something to be said for sharing a moment  with an intelligent animal that shares your world. I wonder –  what would it be like to be a raven for a day or so?

at the transfer station

at the transfer station

Imagine being able to tumble and fly in the company of other ravens – to have the curiosity and desire to explore your world.  To be interested in what other animals are up to. I imagine, when I see ravens flying overhead, that they probably know what goes on in most of their immediate world. Ravens can be quite wary if they suspect that you are paying attention to them or trying to sneak a bit closer to get a better look- but some times  you get lucky and you can catch a glimpse of a raven’s life. I like the idea that there is another animal that might be as curious about me as I am about her. True, ravens may indeed be motivated by optimizing their search for food or making other ravens, but really that is the motivation for much of the activity on our planet. At least ravens have a sense of playfulness, maybe even a sense of humour.  Yes, I do like ravens.

Raven tracks in sand

Raven tracks in sand

solitary Raven track

solitary Raven track

The photos and writing in this blog copyright Joanne Siderius 2013.

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