Raven

Scientific Name: Corvus corax

The boreal forest is home to so many interesting birds but perhaps the most intelligent is the Raven.

What do Common Ravens look like? Ravens are the largest of all the songbirds. They are 2 feet long and have a 4 feet wingspan. They are jet black and have shaggy feathers around their neck. Ravens have a distinct bill with a curve on the upper part. Their tails are wedge shaped and long.

What do ravens sound like? Ravens make a very loud, sharp, krak sound. They also make a sound like a low throaty rattle.

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Where do ravens live? At one time, raven populations in the eastern US drastically decreased because of the logging of old growth forests. Today they are making a comeback and are found in a variety of different habitats such as deserts, mountains, boreal forests and along coastal cliffs. Boreal forests are coniferous forests that are known for their long winters, short summers, and evergreen trees. Common ravens are found throughout the Border Country and also in Alaska, the western US, the Great Lakes area, the norteast, and the Appalachian mountains.

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Did you know that ravens are extremely intelligent? Ravens are known to find sick or dying animals and then to squawk to alert predators of their find. Signaling to the predators is advantageous for both the ravens as well as the predators. The squawking strikes the predators’ curiousity and they will often wonder over and find the victim. Since the ravens are not able to kill large animals they rely on wolves, foxes, or eagles to do the job. Once the predator has made the kill, the ravens move in to take their share of the meat. Wolves have learned to fill up with all the food they can because the ravens will eat the leftovers.Ravens are even known to signal to people about a sick or injured animal. Ravens sometimes “pick on” submissive wolves but they don’t pick on high ranking wolves. It appears that ravens can distinguish dominant wolves from submissive wolves. They seem to stay away from dominant wolves when they are feeding because they realize they are more likely to fight back. The ravens tend to swoop down and peck at submissive wolves when they are feeding to try and make them leave the kill.Next time you are in the woods listen for the loud squawks of ravens and maybe you can even follow one to see what the ravens have discovered!

Click on photo to enlarge

What do raven nests look like? Ravens make their nests out of sticks, bones, and soft material such as wool or leaves. They have between 4-7 spotted eggs.

Sources Farrand, J. Jr. 1988. An Audobon Handbook: Eastern Birds. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. Stensaas, M. 1993. Canoe country wildlife: a field guide to the North Woods and Boundary Waters. Pfeifer- Hamilton, Duluth, MN. Udvardy, M.D.F. 1977. The Audobon Society field guide to North American birds: Western region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

 

Dave Freeman is the Executive Director of the Wilderness Classroom. Dave and Amy Freeman have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places. National Geographic named the Dave and Amy Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

When the Freemans aren’t on expeditions or conducting school assemblies, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips.

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One Comment

  1. Pat Semore
    Posted May 9, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    We are so excited to see ravens in our yard this spring! We live in the middle of 5.75 acres of mature forest and have bird feeders and a source of water for them. Of course we have many more birds too but were over joyed to see the ravens!

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