here. (I am fortunate to live in Seattle where it seems the crows are interesting enough to make the news quite often! Yay Seattle! Yay for crows!)
Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.The social life of corvids Nicola S. Clayton1, and Nathan J. Emery2, 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK 2Sub-department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 8AA, UK
Available online 20 August 2007.
Article OutlineOf the 120 species of birds in the corvid family, which includes the crows, ravens, magpies and jays, the bare-faced rook is perhaps the most social of them all. At a rookery in Norfolk, for example, winter roosts can number up to 60,000 individuals. The name for a congregation of rooks is a ‘parliament’. In English folklore, parliament is an apt name for rook justice, as it is said that rooks form a circle around a wrongdoer producing a cacophony of calls and caws which can go on for hours until the offender is either attacked and killed or released to live another day. Although only fiction, such tales reflect their canny reputation as thieves and tricksters, as well as possessors of great wisdom. Like most birds, corvids are monogamous, and the core unit is therefore the mated pair. This pair bond is typically for life, and the pair remains together throughout the year. For example, rooks and ravens find a partner during the autumn months, taking part in impressive aerobatic displays and food sharing which may be to assess the quality of a potential mate. Once juvenile rooks and ravens pair, they engage in extensive mutual preening and bill twining (bill holding) and support one another in fights.
Mind of the Raven" by Bernd Heinrich. The high maintenance baby ravens don't stop with just a need for attention and an enormous amount of food. They also require some special attention to see to their "bathroom" needs, if you will. You may recall from yesterday's post that nestlings eat A LOT of food. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yep! That is right. Almost every amount that goes into the baby ravens must come out. Since they can't lift themselves up to hang over the side of the nest for at least a couple of weeks, their parents must take care of this expediently. Remember, if they eat six woodfrogs and two mice IN ONE FEEDING, then you can imagine how much waste that much food produces after EACH and EVERY FEEDING! They would quite literally be drowning in a bowl (their nest) full of their own liquid dung (also known as 'mutes'). In order to prevent this from happening, the parents scoop up the "mute" with their beaks as it is coming out and dumps it over the side of the nest. They are the equivalent of live pooper-scoopers. Not so fun, not so simple. Imagine how much time this takes and then recall how much food they need. You can see clearly how much time parenting takes in a raven's life. We are lucky as humans that we only need to go to the local grocery store to obtain food for our young. Imagine the raven's life...
Mind of the Raven" by Bernd Heinrich. In case you are debating on whether you should check it out, you definitely should. Back to my point... When ravens are babies, also known as nestlings, they require an enormous amount of food and parental care. Ravens need a lot of protein to grow healthy and strong. In his book, "Mind of the Raven", Heinrich tells us what he fed six nestlings at about five weeks of age: Day One: One woodchuck and one snowshoe hare Day Two: Three red squirrels, one chipmunk, six frogs, eight chicken eggs (crunched up shells and all) Day Three: Two gray squirrels, five frogs, six eggs, six mice Day Four: One hindquarter of a Holstein calf That is ALOT of food! OMG! He goes on to describe how a few days later EACH of the nestlings could eat six woodfrogs and two mice IN ONE FEEDING! And then they'd be ready in an hour or two to eat the same amount! This is outrageous. Now, I feel infinitely guilty for only feeding them two pieces of bread. Goodness! Young Ravens needs A LOT of care, food, and attention. Our hats go off to the raven parents. And we highly suggest you DO NOT take baby ravens as domestic pets unless you have an enormous amount of time, energy and determination and the resources needed to provide the adequate diet needed for them. I will write more about nestlings and fledglings in future posts, keep your eye out for them!