The Raven

Ravens are renowned for their ability to solve complex puzzles to obtain tasty tidbits of food.

June 25, 2014 | | Blogs | Environment | Notes from the Wild

Trickster, creator, God’s messenger, omen of death – the raven has insinuated itself into myth and legend throughout the northern countries of the world.

Now residents of Headwaters are coming to know this most charismatic of birds, for the raven is recolonizing southern Ontario, where a century ago it succumbed to habitat loss and persecution.

The return of ravens in Headwaters probably began in Dufferin’s Mono Cliffs Provincial Park where the rugged landscape likely reminds them of their northern haunts of rock and forest. But now ravens are turning up in tame, pastoral countryside further south. Remarkably, they even nested in Toronto this spring – on the Leslie Street spit.

Raven nestling and adult

Raven nestling and adult

Another raven pair nested in Caledon. Their nest is a large, sturdy tangle of sticks tucked snuggly into the rafters of a derelict building. I first noticed the adult ravens at the nest in April. By June 1st a fledgling raven, almost grown, perched atop the nest.

The recolonization of southern Ontario by ravens is probably abetted by their extraordinary bird brains. Ravens are renowned for their ability to solve complex puzzles to obtain tasty tidbits of food. Now they appear to be using their intelligence to unravel the puzzle of survival in human-dominated landscapes.

These colonists will not be welcomed by everyone. Their diverse diet includes smaller birds, a predilection that will condemn them in the eyes of some human observers. That songbirds are abundant where ravens reign in the Canadian north suggests that healthy co-existence is possible.

I’m thrilled by the ravens’ return. Their recolonization of southern Ontario provides a counterpoint to the general retreat of wildlife in this age of extinction.

And now we too can weave tales about ravens, adding our voices to the rich narrative they have inspired through the ages.

raven adult above nest raven adult and nestling raven adult on nest raven in the grass raven nestling adult looking on raven nestling and adult raven nestling
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Raven nestling adult looking on

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Comments

5 Comments

  1. Hi Kari – I too have seen ravens in the Georgetown area. They sometimes cruise down the Credit River. Ravens are evidence that some birds and animals can adapt successfully to the dramatic changes we’ve made to the landscape. ‘course it helps to have brains, and ravens have those in abundance!

    Don Scallen on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Reply

  2. This evening I saw a pair of Ravens in downtown Georgetown, at roughly Main St and Highway 7. I hadn’t heard a raven’s call since I worked at Awenda Provincial Park in the 90’s. It made me smile.

    Kari from Georgetown on Sep 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm | Reply

  3. I live in the Albion Hills under Mount Wolfe. This summer I have spotted ravens flying over my yard virtually every day. One day there were three flying in formation. They tend to fly higher than crows but it is their characteristic croak while in flight that draws one’s attention. I have seen more than once a blackbird mobbing a crow which itself is mobbing a raven. Since ravens do soar, can one assume that the reasons given for the increase in vulture numbers apply to ravens? Warmth off tarmac roads creating thermals and increased road kill from traffic density?

    The vocal repertoire of raven is remarkable. This summer I watched one on a roof at the restored Cheltenham brick-works run through a wide range of calls over a twenty minute period with very little repetition. It finally stopped to soar up high into the sky. Was it talking to whatever other ravens might be in range I wonder? No luck, so moved on?

    Ian Keith Anderson from Caledon on Nov 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Reply

    • Love the image of a blackbird mobbing a crow that is mobbing a raven. And I’ve seen ravens mobbing a red-tailed hawk. All are nest robbers given a chance, but are outraged by other birds that do the same thing – reminds me of people who readily condemn others but are oblivious to their own shortcomings!
      Interesting idea about the tarmac creating thermals and helping the ravens soar. I think your road kill hypothesis has merit Ian. As gruesome as it may be, in the north, ravens need to wait for wolves to kill animals and then rip them open before they can feed. Perhaps here in the south cars serve the same function as wolves – both by killing animals and opening them up.

      Don Scallen from Canada on Nov 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Reply

    • The road idea is interesting. When I worked in Awenda Provincial Park, I would often see the resident ravens soaring down the park road in front of me in the mornings.

      Kari on Sep 10, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Reply

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