Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Byron Greco

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the common raven.
The subject of many legends and fables, the raven may very well be one of the most well-storied birds on our landscape. A highly intelligent member of the corvidae family of birds, it is still debated whether or not the raven did indeed steal fire from the sun.
Common ravens are larger-bodied than crows. They have long, stout bills built for eating everything from carrion to insects. Look for ruffled feathers on their throats, as they oftentimes appear unkempt. When distinguishing common ravens from crows in flight, look for a wedge or V-shaped tail formation, looking like a diamond shape, with longer tail feathers in the middle. Ravens are more prone to graceful wing beats and soaring behavior in flat flight with long, narrow wings, whereas crows tend towards erratic flap and glide with broader wings slightly raised.
Their calls tend towards throatier, drawn-out croaks, sometimes likened to kraaah (as per D. Sibley), but they also produce rapid squawks. They are all black, but their iridescent feathers can present as a greasy green or purple with direct sun.
They’re generally found in smaller groups or as isolated individuals. However, a trip to the Trujillo Road landfill may tell you otherwise. Ravens are opportunistic and if there’s a bounty of food to be had, they will be there in numbers.
Their habitat preference is difficult to discern as they occur in ecosystem types ranging from lush environments to arid brush lands. Life expectancy has been documented at 20-plus years. If lucky, one may witness them in aerial stunts, either locking talons for a short fall (like eagles) or even honing their skills by dropping and retrieving sticks in flight.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on April 7, 2019.