Tag Archives: raven
I went for a nice long hike through the Back 400 over the weekend. The dusting of snow that we had earlier, is now long gone. The muskeg is a varied shade of brown these days.
Each step brought a crunch up from the frozen earth. The snap of twigs is amplified in the chilly air. I came across a duck carcass on one frozen puddle. A raven was picking through the feathers that were scattered across the ice. Had the duck been caught in the quickly freezing puddle, or had it been caught by a predator, and the raven only recently found the remains? The scene was a mess of feathers, and I wasn’t confident enough in the ice thickness to venture that far out. Besides, the raven was not looking for my company anyway. Our rabbit population is quite high at the moment, which explains the number of fox in the neighborhood. We have had lynx here in the past as well, but I have not seen any sign of them… yet.
At the creek, I was amused by a pair of beaver. They had been quite busy, building a new dam across the now, slow moving water. It is amazing how many birch and aspen they can cut down in such a short period of time. I pushed my luck as I tried to quietly reach the creek bank. A crunch of tundra caused a double tail slap to come from the creek. These two are more wary of me than the pair in The Pond. Once my presence was known, they kept out of view, and eventually I wandered deeper down the bank to see what else was new in the ever-changing neighborhood.
I sat out at the end of the dock, watching a family of ducks float about just past the reeds. The eagle I have seen since my arrival, was riding the thermals up high. The sun was slowly setting, causing the smokey sky to give off its wildfire glow.
After hanging out with me for the better part of a day, the ducks have grown used to me, and barely paddle off when I venture out in the canoe.
Thunder was building tension off in the distance, when I saw the eagle dive. I wondered if it saw a fish. No, I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t diving for a fish. The talons extended out from the golden eagle’s body, its large wings spread outward to slow down its impact.
Ducks. The eagle was in the mood for duck. There was a moment of intense squawking. Then silence. The remaining brood paddled quickly away, and the eagle settled down just past the reeds.
A minute later, I watched a raven come into the kill site. I could see only its black head, as it hopped closer and closer to where I had last seen the golden eagle. One final raven hop, and the great raptor rose up with wings wide and high. The raven hopped just out of range, but continued to harass the eagle while it ate.
We don’t get as many rousing thunderstorms as the Midwest. We simply don’t have the humidity. However, the one that came through as I sat out on the dock was a decent one. Lightning was all around the lake, and the thunder rolled over the hills and across the water. Only a few scattered drops of rain, unfortunately. All show, and no soak.
I went inside more to avoid the lightning than the rain drops.
I had no intention of even turning the valve open on the propane, but the severely darkened sky kind of forced my hand. It took a little while, but eventually the gas made it down the copper lines, and the familiar hiss of the propane lights filled the little log cabin.
I’ve missed these lights. They say “north woods” to me, and I have always enjoyed relaxing under their warm glow, and soft hiss. The added heat they bring in the winter is nothing to scoff at either.
So I wrote, and read under the lights as the lightning surrounded the cabin and the resulting thunder pounded down upon the hills.
The Curator’s curiosity towards wildlife, knows no bounds, and he has more than once inquired about the difference between the American Crow and the Common Raven. A pair of Fairbanks ravens are pictured here.
Ravens are larger, about the size of a red-tailed hawk, and they often travel in pairs, where crows often travel in a flock. Crows have tail feathers that are basically the same length, so when they spread their tail, it looks like a fan. Ravens have longer middle tail feathers, so theirs looks like a wedge when spread out. Crows also emit a cawing sound, while a raven gives off more of a low croak.
The audio of a raven is an Alaska Field Recording, which is in the public domain. Thanks to floydstinkyboy for sharing it.
Ravens are seen year-round in Fairbanks. They are incredibly smart birds. I knew a sled dog who, I was told, had to defend his meals from ravens as a puppy, and he never forgot. He grew to hate ravens, and just the sight of them flying overhead drew a raucous, angry, bark fest. The ravens seemed to know this, as they would torment him just by chatting with him calmly from the tree top near his doghouse.
One of my favorite raven encounters happened in a lumber yard parking lot. I was in my truck talking to a customer on the phone, when a rather large raven landed on a truck in front of me. I watched captivated as the raven tore off the rubber from a windshield wiper. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man flailing his arms and running towards the truck. The raven quickened its pace, and promptly removed the rubber from the other wiper blade. Just as the man reached the truck’s hood, the raven lifted off into the air, with both rubber strips trailing behind it like a couple of thin snakes. An exasperated gentleman, proceeded to round on me for not defending his truck from the opportunistic flying thief. I had to admit to the man, that I was so mesmerized by the raven’s actions, that intervention never occurred to me. The entire time, the customer was howling in the phone, as I had been giving a play by play of the action.
I had a new job supervisor hanging out at the site. A raven sat up there on the extended stump, squawking for quite a while. I couldn’t figure out what it had to complain about: The weather was beautiful, and the job was humming along.
Everyone is a critic; even the wildlife.
Eventually, the vocal Corvus flew off to judge someone else’s work.