Friday, August 13, 2010

Common Raven

Corvus corax is an extremely widespread species of bird, and can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  They are one of several species of Raven within the Corvus genus, and, due to their extensive range, they are one of the most recognizable. Common Ravens live in just about any non-rainforest habitat, though they prefer open areas. They are also the second largest of all the "Perching Birds," members of the order Passeriformes.

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Ravens are extremely intelligent. They work in pairs to effectively hunt and capture prey, and have a complex system of calls. They have been studied by scientists for years and are now known to be excellent mimics, tool users, and problem solvers. Unfortunately, their place as "Einstein of the Bird Family," has caused problems. Common Ravens are able to get into a wide variety of containers... which is an issue for livestock pens, campsites, and the family cooler that is left out while picnicking. They are omnivores and highly opportunistic feeders.

Common Ravens are symbolic in many cultures. They are prominent in the mythologies of many Pacific Northwestern Native Tribes. Two Ravens, Huginn and Munnin, serve as news-bringers to the Norse god Odin. The additionally appears in Celtic and Greek tales, among many others. They serve a variety of roles, as tricksters, as guides, and in modern England, they are "responsible" for holding the monarchy together! Legend goes that Charles II wished to have the Ravens removed from the Tower of London, where they were becoming a nuisance. He was told that at least six Ravens should always remain, otherwise the entire monarchy would fall. Currently there are seven Ravens living at the Tower, overseen by their very own Raven Master. Though Ravens tend to live about a decade in the wild, Tower Ravens have lived over 40 years!

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