Monday, February 05, 2007


i'm getting used to the ravens. they're all over town, sitting in trees, on buildings, and flying around, often swooping very low down the alleys. ravens are more than just big crows; they make more interesting sounds (including a beautiful surprising watery cooing noise). they can live to be 50 years old--though many of the birds in Dawson are missing tail and wing feathers, so i suspect kids take pot shots at them, which might interfere with their longevity. raven claws aren't equipped to actually tear up an animal (which is why all the Corvidae birds are gruesomely famous for eating eyeballs), so they scavenge. stories abound of ravens following wolves & hunters; some stories argue that ravens will even lead wolves to game, in order to eat.
a few years ago, i watched ravens teasing a few dozen sled huskies--the huskies had just been fed their daily meal of frozen fish. a raven flew in and grabbed one small piece of fish, dropping it carefully between two husky doghouses. the two huskies immediately rushed for that piece of fish, then got into an argument with each other. meanwhile, the ravens descended and ate the other fish the dogs had abandoned. you'd think the huskies would eventually figure this out--the owner said it happened almost every day to one dog or another.
we've put out stale bread for the ravens, just to watch them; they're very wily, sitting on nearby posts to make sure it isn't a trap, swooping very close to our windows to see if we're watching them, and putting out the message to other ravens so that a half-dozen eventually turn up to eat together.

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