Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Raven Baby Chatter

This week a dream came true when I found the Raven Family of Lincoln Park. For several years I have been fascinated by how the ravens moved into town.  Many bird sites clearly state that Ravens are in Washington State except in urban areas like Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma etc.  When we went to the mountains I would thrill at seeing these large corvids. I even had an exciting series of photos of one stealing from a motorcycles saddle bags at Sunset on Mount Rainier.

Raven enjoying view

In 2013 I personally saw a raven in my southwest Seattle neighborhood.  In the following years even found a baby in Lincoln Park plus some visiting birds in Fauntleroy Park. Here are the links to those articles and photos.

Ravens in West Seattle 2013?

Raven Baby Lincoln Park 2016

Raven Visiting Fauntleroy Park – Spring 2018

Call of the Raven – Fauntleroy Park – Summer 2018

We have a fairly large park in southwest Seattle with a large forested area. Lincoln Park is best known for it’s salt water pool and the nice beach waterfront area close to the Ferry Dock to Vashon. I usually hang out in the wooded sections admiring cedar trees and hoping for some bird sighting serendipity. This weekend I heard the ravens there but couldn’t get a good photo.  When I finally got my camera out they had quickly disappeared.

The next day I thought I should try again. Betting that small family will still be around. Moving baby birds is not something parents do unless they are very distressed. The park is so nice and full of places for them I doubted they had a motive to leave.

I was so right and for a half hour I followed along on a baby raven ride!!  What a ride it was.

It all started when I heard them from quite a distance and walked quickly to the area I had seen them before. Low and behold I found them because one of the babies was chattering up a storm.  Here is a look at what that first area looked like. Dead center of the photo is where the baby was.  His parent flew into a tree to my right.

Lincoln Park forest with Raven Family

Here is mom or dad swooping in to make sure baby was not messed with. The baby was chattering to everyone in the family about what he was doing. He was testing his voice and crooning, croaking, making echos and having a grand time going from tree to tree. This small murder seemed oblivious to us humans. Very unlike crows who are needless to say very protective of their kids. Bet if we did try to mess with them there would be retribution administered by these large birds.  Perhaps their size makes them bolder than their crow brothers.

Raven Parent watching & listening to his baby

The baby flew towards me and landed on a low branch behind me. Then to my delight another baby flew onto another low branch. At first a parent came over to that tree and then moved in with baby chatty.

Second Raven youngster hanging out

The second baby was quieter and was busy poking into the tree bark looking for bugs. The video below shows him using his large beak to do that.  All the while his sibling continues to vocalize non-stop.

Another lady was watching with me. The singing of the baby enchanted both of us. Then the whole raven crew flew over by her onto low branches of a cedar tree. Before we knew it they landed on the ground and searched for tender things to eat. All the while she was only a few feet away. The parents even went out onto the trail and strutted a little bit for everyone. Such brave strong birds.

Ravens on the ground – fearless of us humans

Then the chase began. The babies flew off to the northwest. I trucked after them following Baby Chatty’s loud talking.

Fir Tree landing spot – check out the big beak & pinkish corner

Next is was a madrona tree with more playing, pecking and singing.

Just hanging out on a summer day!

You can tell for sure this is a baby (as if his and his parents behavior wasn’t enough to tell) by the pink mouth that this photo shows off. Check out how his feathers are so defined too.

Chatty Baby Raven showing off his pink mouth.

This baby was constantly busy. Not only being Chatty Cathy but also pecking at everything. I laughed thinking he was saying to his parents “See what I found? Is this good food? What should I do with this? See how I can land here?”

Raven child pecking on branches

I know you want more audio of this encounter!  Here you go!

Then the adventure ended when the two babies and the one parent landed on a tree branch together.  To my delight the other parent joined so we got this family picture.

Raven Family Photo
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Raven visiting Fauntleroy Park

I was wandering around my local park on a gorgeous winter morning. Things got really special when I heard the croak of a raven. Next I saw him and he was a big black bird.  It was a serendipity moment that I seized with a few photos and a video.

Trees in Fauntleroy Park – Raven heard but hard to see

There has been a pair in Lincoln Park for a few years. They even raised some babies. Perhaps one of the children or one of the parents are growing their territory.

It is a Raven!! See the heavy beak.

This raven circled and checked out a lot of tall trees today. Wonder if we will have a new addition to our Park this spring.

I leave you with the best part. A short video that isn’t too great in the visual side but it does give you the croaking voice of a raven.

 

Posted in Baby Crows

Raven Baby in Lincoln Park

To my delight I found a baby raven in Lincoln Park (West Seattle). I heard from someone I met on the trail in Fauntleroy Park that there were ravens in Lincoln. This was the second time someone told me that in the last week or two. Ravens are not known to come down into the urban Puget Sound area. They are found in the foothills and in Eastern Washington but certainly not in Seattle. That makes this news even more special.

So, I walked over and listened for the tell-tale sound of ravens. They have a deeper chuckle rather than the brassy caw of a crow. After wandering around I heard a chattering type chuckle. My brain went… Baby Raven!! It did not have the usually baby crow high pitched momma momma caw but he had a deep bass clucking sound.

I pinpointed the tree and then started to circled it with my binoculars. Sure enough there he was very high up in the tree with another raven. The red arrow on this picture shows how the naked eye couldn’t have found him.

Raven Tree
Raven pair up high in fir tree at Lincoln Park – Seattle

This other bird could be another baby or parent. It is very hard to tell from this distance. Here is a short video so you can hear his baby babbling.

Another identifying thing that makes this baby a raven instead of a crow is the size of his chin ruff and the heavy long beak. This picture shows you his really big schnoz. Plus look in the background and you can see the other raven just hanging out.

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Raven Baby playing and babbling in fir tree in a Seattle Park

I did some research on ravens in this park. They have been hanging out for a couple of years and last year another bird watcher caught a baby on video.

Enjoy!!  Remember to leave your technology in your pocket. Look up and listen for sweet moments like this.

Posted in crows

The Raven & Crow’s Image

This time of year crows come to the forefront.   Halloween’s roster of characters include things black from crows to bats.  How did the crow’s image get to the top of the evil list?

We humans think of one crow alone in a tree to be mysterious (as in the picture above). As the flock gets bigger and bigger we go into a primeval mode.  We feel on the defensive and that these dark crows could attack us.  Are you thinking of the old Alfred Hitchcock movie the Birds?

Renton Crows come to Roost at dusk
Renton Crows come to Roost at dusk

So, here it is the celebration of Halloween, the holiday of goblins, ghouls and the grim reaper and what do we see?  Huge flocks of crows forming roosts each evening.  Some roosts are only a hundred or so individuals but then there are the ones like in Renton, Washington that are in the thousands.  As dusk approaches they flock to the determined common ground.  Is it coincidence that large groups of crows gather during the celebrations like Halloween adn the Day of the Dead?  Some may think not and again the crows image falls lower.

 

Our historic knowledge of crows and ravens has not always been happy images.  These images range from flocks of birds raiding the fall harvest to them scavenging among battlefield dead. How can anyone not fear a creature that peeks the eyes out of dead soldiers?  Not that we have witnessed this phenomena in the current decades.  Humans have found new ways in warfare that don’t leave dead just lying around.  We bomb them to pieces and think we are being more humane.  Hah!!  and crows are evil?  Look at our image before you throw the first stone on these intelligent birds.

Forklore around crows and ravens is not limited to just one continent.  How could it be many tribes and cultures individually admire and fear them?  Their intellegence is so above the norm for non-human creatures we attribute our own qualities to them.  Here are several myths and forklore that have grown up around our dear raven and crow friends.

Odin the Norse god of old had a pair of ravens named Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Mind). Each daybreak they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody, including the dead. By sunrise they would come back to whisper into their master’s ear what they had seen and learnt.

Pacific Northwest indigenous people think of the Raven/Crow as a sage and trickster.  A similar story of the world with no light is found in many of the New World’s people. The world is a dark place and in that story the Raven decided he would bring light to the world. The Chief of Heaven kept it in a box and the raven conceived a plan to steal it.  He became a leaf on a stream where the chief’s daughter was drinking.  She gave birth to him and as the favored grandson the Chief of Heaven gave it Raven.  He turned back into a bird and flew away with the box of light.  Then he dropped it in error and the light broke into many pieces creating the stars, moon and sun.

In the North American mythology raven is a personification of supreme being. When it flaps its wings, it creates the wind, the lightning and the thunder. And it is also the raven who is responsible for the rhythm of seasons and providing the shamans with their visionary and healing powers.  Wait..this is a good image!!  Are we human’s confused or what?

This difference in how European and North American People saw the raven and crow led to several disputes.  Indigenous people respected and revered them while Europeans despised them.  This led to disrespect between the cultures.

The crow has also had a role in the Asiatic mythology. According to chinese legends, ten red crows with three paws flew away from the East Blackberry Tree to bring light to the world. But they brought an unbearable heat to the Earth. Yi The Good Archer killed nine of them, and saved the world. The last Crow is now in the Sun. Interesting how this is another myth around crows and the light on earth.

In the Bible, the crow is sent by Noah to search earth after the flood. But the crow didn’t  say that the flood was finished and was considered selfish. Another Bible story is after Adam and Eve were driven away from the Paradise, the crows started to eat carrion. So they became black-feathered. At the end of time, the crows will find their beauty again and sing harmoniously to praise God.  They are the symbol of resurrection in these stories.

In India, in the Mahâbhârata, the messengers of death are compared to crows. In Laos, the water soiled by crows can’t be used for ritual purification.  Guess they are not thought all light and grace by all.

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No wonder these black beauties have an image problem.  One day they are riding high as the creator of the world and then the next century they are feared as the death of things. If you think about it, the end of something is the beginning too. The crow and raven then are one of god’s creatures who traverses both sides of good and evil.  Showing us that it is not as simple as black and white, good or bad and heaven or hell.

Thank you to http://www.perspectivesmagazine.sk/news/ravens-and-crows-in-mythology-folklore-and-religion/  and   http://thecrow.tripod.com/myth.html   for information regarding folklore on Ravens and Crows.

Posted in Crows of the Hood

Ravens in West Seattle?

Is it possible? Ravens down in the lowlands of West Seattle?

A couple of weeks ago over on Marine View Drive I saw one of my crow families chasing a black bird. It looked like a crow but bigger.  However, the tell tail sign was his voice. It was a deep croak not the higher caw of my crows.

Then last weekend on my search for the elusive Trillium in Fauntleroy Park I heard a murder of crows mobbing something in the woods. They were acting like an owl or hawk was in the fir trees. They don’t especially like them with it close to nesting time. Along came another person walking her pretty little dog. We chatted about the crows and how both of us had seen owls in this  park’s wooded ravine.

About that time, we saw a large dark bird fly out of the forest making that croaking sound. Sort of like a goose but deeper and a goose would not be up in the trees let alone be all black.

My fellow park goer then told me about how she was in Lincoln Park recently and how she saw a pair of ravens. We were laughing about her story because she told me that she ran after them and her dog was drug along for the ride.

So, is it possible they are down here looking for food, nesting spots or have they been here all along and we just never noticed?

Since I love pictures in blogs and I didn’t get a photo of the mysterious birds, I am going to leave you with a Raven we captured on a Motorcycle at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics National Park. He actually raided the saddle bags.

Raven enjoying view
Raven enjoying view

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Posted in Crows in Renton, Mocha's family at our house

Crow Courtship Begins

The days of the big flock party time is winding down.   Soon we will see them going off pair by pair establishing territories and nesting sites.  It will probably take a few months for then to settle in.  The weather will drive a lot of the timing and make for false starts.   See my blog article from last year called “Spring Mixed Signals end Crow Love” = http://wp.me/p1d1cX-4a

Last week in the trees surrounding the office I watched several pairs size up the area.   Last year a pair made several false starts building nests in our pine trees.  They eventually settled into a tree down the street next to the Blood Bank’s building.   Our trees are probably too close to the street and not dense enough for their needs.   However, they are back and maybe this will be the year we get to watch them raise a family right outside our windows.

Today in our backyard we got a good view of Crow Love.   A pair landed on our weather vane awaiting a handout and you can see them grooming each other in this picture.

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Springs not even sprung but crow love has

Here is another photo showing them cuddling up and becoming a pair that I took last year.

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Crow Kisses on the wire

One final thought for the day  –  It was today in 1845 that Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” was first published in the Evening Mirror.

Posted in crows

Crows-Ravens and Halloween

Corvids (Crows & Ravens) are some of the most popular symbols of Halloween.   Months ago I wrote an article about why people think Crows are Evil.  evil crows post   In that article I talked about how we as humans might fear a bird that is so smart.  Or is it that in our clean and tidy world we don’t take well to them feeding on battlefield dead.  Lets look at this subject in more detail:

They are black & that color is associated with the powers of darkness.  Sounds like a simple reason but not many birds are all black and glossy.

However, other reasons, as I mentioned in my earlier article is they eat carrion.   Not only dead animals but also humans left in the open such as battlefields.   Modern battlefields don’t really experience this like days of old.  Gettysburg of the US Civil War and Culloden (Battle of Scot & English in 1845) are from a time that is so much messier than our methods of killing each other.   Add modern combat medicine and bodies left laying around are pretty rare in this century.

Lets get gory (yes Halloween is that kind of celebration) and crows do something that gives all of us the willies & chills.  They eat the eyeballs or other soft tissue first.   Their beaks can’t easily break the skin of the dead they are munching on so they go for the easy tasty places.

They do occasionally attack and kill small animals hence they have earned  “unkindness of ravens” and “murder of crows” used to describe flocks of these birds.  However, they do eat other foods, berries, insects, grain, worms and by eating roadkill they are cleaning up a messy by product of our busy arterial.

They don’t have song bird voices either and even learn how to imitate human speech.  Some of us think they are smart enough that they aren’t really imitating but rather have learned to communicate in our language.  Their natural voices produce a wide variety of harsh and sometimes disturbing noises which most people find unsettling.   Nothing like a crow cawing outside your window to wake you up freaked out and worried what the day will bring.

Myths and Superstitions could also be why we pick Corvids as mascots of Halloween.

In Germany it is told Ravens can find the souls of the dead and even contain the souls of the damned.

In Sweden the croaking sound of Ravens is thought to the voices of murdered people who were not properly buried.

The Tower of London has six Ravens because the legend says if anything should befall them, England will be invaded.

A Crow or Raven on the roof foretells death or misfortune to the home’s inhabitants.  A raven on a church steeple is bad news for a whole community.   I have to comment here- We have quite a flock (murder) of crows we feed and entertain daily.   They rest on our roof day after day.  I like to think they give us good luck.

The Northwest coastal people have traditions that portray the Raven as both the creator spirit, trickster, hero or villain all at the same time.   He is a great shiftshaper and can assume any image to get what he wants.  He either is the creator of the world or plays a big part in its creation.  Their Crow stories explore themes of justice versus the Raven who has a greedy motivation.

Are you now convinced they must be the most evil thing in the world and deserve to be associated with Halloween?   If you have read my blog about their families and behaviors, you know I don’t think that.

But remember, they are Black.

Sources:

http://rosemary-drisdelle.suite101.com/ravens-and-crows-halloween-symbols-a73933 -Article by Rosemary Drisdelle on “Ravens and Crows – Halloween Symbols” October 18, 2008

http://www.nicholaswood.net/Articles/Unkindness-of-Ravens.pdf

American  Crow.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds.

Birds in Legend Fable and Folklore. Ingersoll, Ernest. New York:  Longmans, Green and Co.; 1923

Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Perrins, Christopher ed. Buffalo:  Firefly Books, 2003