LISTENING TO RAVEN Solo Exhibition

 

There is an artist named Beth Surdut who specializes in the art and story of Raven. She would like to invite all those who love corvids, particularly ravens, to to her solo exhibition of intricate drawings and stories opening at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The show runs through August 9, 2010.

The Ravens of Truth and Memory © All images in this post are copyrighted by Beth Surdut. Do not copy or use any of them without her permission.

The artist, Beth Surdut, said this about the above ravens (The Ravens of Truth and Memory),

The Norse God Odin sent two Ravens out each day–one named Truth (Hugin), the other Memory (Munin). Here, Memory allows Truth to gently pick through her feathers until both birds shine.

As with The Ravens of Truth and Memory each of her raven drawings has a unique story that you can read on her blog. Each has a life beyond the paper and the pens the coloring and shading, in the imagination of those who are able to see them and read their stories.

You can also view her beautiful work on her blog http://www.surdut.blogspot.com and her website http://www.bethsurdut.com.

And a special request to all corvid lovers who have stories to share about the raven. Beth Surdut “collects raven stories of spirit and science and would delighted to share and hear from [our] readers.” You can leave your comments / stories below or you can message her personally at info@bethsurdut.com (tell her you read about her work at CorvidCorner so she knows who you are…)

Raven queen


Raven queen

Originally uploaded by ultradialectics amsterdam

Crows and ravens often inspire art. This is one I found while perusing flickr. Gorgeous, isn’t it? Can I challenge my readers to write me a story from this picture? Write me a story of the Raven Queen. I will post it with a link to wherever you wish! If you are interested then please email me the story or your questions below. I look forward to hearing from you!

[contact-form 1 “Contact form 1”]

The Revered, Reviled Crow Clan by Howard Youth

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.

Corvids play

Everything plays. Playing helps with motor and sensory skills as well as social behavior. It relieves stress. It teaches the young many important things needed for survival through the process of trial and error while they can still afford to make mistakes. It keeps relationships healthy. Social play helps children gain friends. Social play helps young lovers meet and flirt. Social play teaches us how to behave according to our social norms. It can give us solid practice on our role in society. Birds are no different than us. They play, although not all birds use social play. But young birds play more than fully grown birds. Bird play is often spontaneous and free-spirited. And corvids engage in all manners of play, including social play. It is easy to recognize a child playing. It can be just as easy to recognize a bird playing.

For example, when corvids play they often soar together on air currents, swoop down only to rise again over and over. It resembles a flying game of tag. Corvids also use ordinary objects as toys. They will often drop twigs, stones, leaves, or even their food midair and then catch them before they fall completely. Much like juggling or tossing a ball into the air. “One Hooded Crow repeated this performance dozens of times, catching his ‘toy’ after it had dropped about 36 feet (11 meters)”. ((Podulka, Sandy, Ronald W. Rohrbaugh, Jr., and Rick Bonney, Editors. Handbook of Bird Biology. 2nd edition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2004.)) He must have been one heck of a juggler. I can almost seem him as a human, throwing things up in the air and catching them in his mouth.

The following antics, corvid play was described in the Handbook of Bird Biology by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Ravens have been observed taking turns sliding on their tails, feet first, down a snow bank as well as repeatedly sliding down smooth pieces of wood in their cages. Ravens have been seen playing with dogs, taking turns chasing it around a tree. One captive raven was observed tossing a rubber ball, pebbles, or snail shells into the air and catching them repeatedly. This same bird would often lay on its back and shift various playthings (toys) between its beak and its claws much like many children do with their toys. Other birds fell forward from a perch like an acrobat, in order to hang upside down by their feet, wings outstretched, then let go one foot at a time. While upside down, they would carry pieces of food, or shift items from beak to feet. One, while holding onto a branch with his feet, learned to propel himself around and around the perch by flapping his wings, like a gymnast on uneven parallel bars in a sort of ‘loop-the-loop. The same captive ravens also played balancing games: carefully walking out as far as possible to the end of a tiny branch until it bent downward, turning them upside down; or trying to stand on a stick or bone held in the feet, while balancing it on top of and parallel to a perch made from a thick, wooden dowel.

When given time and the resources birds will play. The corvids do. Perhaps it is the corvids extensive use of playing, allowing themselves and their young to learn and develop through playing that allows them to thrive when other bird populations are declining at an alarming rate.

Sources referenced

Podulka, Sandy, Ronald W. Rohrbaugh, Jr., and Rick Bonney, Editors. Handbook of Bird Biology. 2nd edition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2004.

Are crows monogamous?


two crows

Originally uploaded by mikE~510

I regularly peruse crow photographs on flickr. Today I found this one. What an excellent photograph, don’t you think? Under the photograph the question was asked, “Are crows monogamous?” Are crows monogamous? Are ravens monogamous? I thought this would be a good post for today.

Yes, crows and ravens are monogamous. They generally mate for life. They are social birds. John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell stated the following about crows in their book In the Company of Crows and Ravens,

“Crows and ravens care for each other, spend years living at home, engage in foreplay, and mate for life but now and then mate with others. Large groups cooperate to sleep in safety, drive away mutual enemies, and maybe even dole out justice.”

Interesting, eh? We could learn a thing or two from crows and ravens. Maybe being close with family and friends is not just for the birds…

Thanks to mikE~510 for the photograph, the question and the inspiration to write this post!

Common Ravens and Egg


Common Ravens and Egg

Originally uploaded by poecile05

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…