I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for a while, considering it’s such a big theme of my author platform, so today I thought I’d touch on the question I’m sure you’re all dying to know: What’s with all the ravens?
I don’t know when the fascination really started. What I do know is that in my travel diary from 2007, I made a point of saying that if I hadn’t already been in love with the idea of Ireland, the fact they have ravens would have done the trick. Doing the math, that means at least 8 years of my life have been spent watching and learning about these birds.
I first noticed them when I was about 8 years old – on the drive up to the family cottage, I’d believed the crows had been bitten by radioactive spiders, causing them to grow in incredible sizes. For me, they were new. Some of you might wonder how that’s possible. They’re loud and EVERYWHERE, how could I not have noticed them? Fact is, the raven population in Ontario had decreased considerably by then. The wolf population in Algonquin Park and surrounding areas had grown too large, so the decision at the time had been to lay down poison to control it. The trouble with that is that ravens and wolves have quite the symbiotic relationship — the ravens eat what the wolf kills. When they changed their mind and allowed the wolves to return, the ravens started to come back.
In 2010, I took my love of ravens to the next level and had one inked permanently into my skin.
Of course people ask me: why the raven? My answer is that, in many ways, they reflect who I am and who I aspire to be.
Ravens are caring – they mate for life and are attentive parents.
They’re creative – they think outside of the box to solve problems with an impressive logic; they band together to solve problems one couldn’t solve on their own. One of my favourite stories on this subject is the ornithologist who studied a particular group of ravens (for the actual story and full study, check out Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich). He tied a piece of raw meat to a string and hung it from a tree branch. Other birds came in and would fly at the meat, unable to get it because the string kept swaying. The ravens came. After only a few tries of grabbing it mid-air, one of the birds landed on the branch where the string was attached, lifted the string with its beak, caught it with its foot, and repeat until it had pulled the meat up onto the branch and could eat it without trouble.
My other favourite story would carry more weight if you watched it yourself:
Amazing, right? These blackbirds, I tells ya!
Another reason ravens and crows are creatures to pay attention to: they PLAY . Although it’s not obvious to hear them, ravens are considered songbirds; they’re natural mimics and can create all sorts of side effects (ravens with roosts near construction sites, for example, can often be heard mimicking the sounds of explosions). They’re one of the few birds to fly for fun and I have seen this happen. Driving with my dad one day, we were stopped at a red light next to a mid-rise building. I looked up and was astounded to see three ravens playing loop-de-loop in the air, riding the air currents in arcs, much like the sight of teenagers on their curved ramps. Each bird would take a turn. Also, how is this not amazing?
Love that video.
So sure, they’re loud and abrasive and enjoy the taste of dead flesh, but I still think they’re worth loving.
Do you have an animal you relate to?