Brooklyn Raven

Winter, especially at the tail-end of a bona fide cold snap like we’ve had most of the week, generally presents few surprises for the nature watcher. But this morning, as I wandered about Green-Wood Cemetery, I watched a Common raven (Corvus corax) and a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) contest the airspace overhead.

The Red-tailed was the aggressor here, diving at the raven. Usually, one sees crows diving at Red-tails and other hawks, the hawks just blowing it off and drifting away, like we might with flies buzzing about us.

But the hawk’s dives here were less common than the aerial ballet — kind of like a courtship flight, actually — as they circled about each other and moved towards the south (ultimately beyond the boundary of the cemetery). If the Red-tailed was one of our locals, it may never have seen a black bird bigger than it before.

This was my first sighting of a raven here in Brooklyn. Previously, I’ve seen, and heard, them upstate, in California, Iceland, and Scotland, and am never less than thrilled when I do so. The birds are traditionally a species of mountainous regions, although a pair has nested in Queens in the last few years (there was a report yesterday of a sighting in our neighboring borough). They are moving closer to civilization.

Updated 1/30/13: And this was not a fluke. Raven spotted overhead in Prospect Park yesterday, as well as in Green-Wood again by others. Would be amazing if a pair nested here, which I believe would be unprecedented. The Red-tailed hawks, however, may have something to say about this possibility; two were keeping an eye on the Green-Wood raven.

1/30/13 update continued: Saw the bird in Prospect Park around 10 a.m., after being alerted by loud cry. It was in a tree, practically overhead. A few minutes earlier, saw what I thought was a Raven flying fast to the west. Another birder reported a Raven in Green-Wood four minutes after I reported the one in the tree. I think we’ve got a pair.
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7 Responses to “Brooklyn Raven”


  1. 1 African Lives Book (@AfricanLives) January 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Ever read Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich? It’s a good one.
    http://bit.ly/XEEMmn

  2. 3 Out Walking the Dog January 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    What an absolutely thrilling sighting, Matthew.

  3. 5 Elizabeth January 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I think I might have dropped the phone.

  4. 7 tombland February 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Exciting stuff, we see ravens over on the NJ palisades.


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