The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)
What a beautiful little bird! According to the Crater Lake Institute, four of the six birds mostly like to be seen at Crater Lake in Oregon are corvids: Ravens, Gray Jays, Stellers’ Jays, and Clark’s Nutcrackers (see yesterday’s post about this clever little corvid!)
Maybe we can nickname it Corvid Lake =).
I read an excellent article about corvids from their habitat to myths and legends about them in the May/June 2001 issue of Zoogoer. I think it is worth the read. Here is an excerpt:
For centuries, a dark specter haunted the bloody battlefields of Europe. Waiting to feast on the dead, common ravens lined up at bloody clashes between invaders and invaded, tribes and kingdoms. War-weary observers could not ignore the jet-black scavengers, with their four-foot-wide wingspreads and cross-shaped flight profiles. Ravens, not surprisingly, were branded harbingers of bad luck, or death.
Away from the carnage, common ravens (Corvus corax) also coasted into folklore, legend, and language, strongly hinting that these creatures and their 100-plus brethren in the family Corvidae are not your average birds. Two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), rode the broad shoulders of the Norse god Odin. In Inuit legend, the raven became creator and trickster. In the Bible, Noah sent not only a dove but also a raven to seek land, as did many ancient mariners. Tame ravens still stroll within the Tower of London’s walls, where for centuries they’ve been sequestered as guardians against invasion.
One reason why ravens, crows, jackdaws, rooks, magpies, treepies, choughs, nutcrackers, and jays stand out is that they have above-average brains—proportionately, they possess the largest cerebral hemispheres of the feathered set. Plucky, crafty, curious, social, vocal, and adaptable, corvids, as family members are known, are among our most familiar yet enigmatic neighbors. On all continents save Antarctica, they flourish in backyards and wilderness, although more than 20 species barely hang on within shrinking habitats. Ethiopia’s thick-billed raven (Corvus crassirostris), bigger than a red-tailed hawk, is the world’s largest songbird, while the dun-colored Hume’s ground-jay (Pseudopodoces humilis) of the Tibetan plains is the smallest family member. In between lies a broad spectrum of glossy, splashy, and plume-tailed characters.
You can read the rest of the article here.
Most people do not know that there are over 120 species of corvid family of birds—including many jays, choughs and treepies—not just crows, ravens and magpies. Well, I was not certain where to begin with this fascinating family of birds so I decided to start with telling you the biggest and the smallest amongst them.
The largest corvids are the Common Raven (Corvus corax) and the Thick-billed Raven (Corvus crassirostris), both of which regularly exceed 1400 grams (3 lbs) and 65 cm (26 inches).1
I will do thorough posts about these specific birds in the next couple of days. For now I will share a picture of each.
This is the second raven baby/egg photograph and post. Thanks to the photographer, poecile05, for sharing this on flickr and allowing us to blog it.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know how much a baby raven can and must consume. I shared with you a small part of a book I read, “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…
Ok, so who couldn’t love this little guy? And how could I NOT share it? What a great photograph. Thanks again to the Robinsegg (on flickr) for this most excellent photograph capturing clearly the interesting personality and charm Ravens possess.
What do you think he is thinking? Cheese? Perhaps. Or maybe he is thinking, “When you finish taking my photograph, would you mind terribly going and fetching me some McDonald’s?”