Monday, February 4, 2008

Raven redux

According to William Roberts, our local wildlife rehabber (along with his wife Joyce), Bernd Heinrich (known for his studies of ravens and a book titled, Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds) was surprised when on one or two occasions, cooperative family groups did participate in the rearing of next generation young. This behavior is apparently rare and unexpected in the wild.

Occasionally groups of breeding pairs nest in close proximity, but breeding success is less than that of the more common solitary pair. Heinrich speculates that the group breeding event may have to do with added protection from perceived dangers in the neighborhood.

According to William, there are nesting ravens in a warehouse in Winston-Salem, which is very strange. Historically and today as well, ravens are more common farther north, and are full-time residents within the Arctic circle. Typically, the farthest south they have been seen until recent years has been around here, in our mountains. But more reports of ravens are coming from places like Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, for instance, with widespread anticipation of imminent breeding documentation. I read last night that ravens, once considered to be intolerant of human activity, are learning to adjust. Opportunism does indicate intelligence, for good or ill.

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