Ravens Again

Corvus coraxA pair of Ravens (Corvus corax) sailed on the stiff breeze along the shore of Bush Terminal the other day. This is where I and others have seen and heard them off and on since New Year’s Day. They have an almost floppy wing action, exacerbated by their long finger-like primary feathers. Several hours later on a return visit, a single Raven was seen and heard in the distance.Corvus coraxIt’s thrilling to see these big boisterous birds. They are about the size of Red-tailed Hawks, so substantially bigger than their corvid cousins, the American and Fish Crows. Unlike Crows, they were not regulars in the city until quite recently. But they now breed within the city limits; the first known nest was in Queens; as far as I know, a Brooklyn nest has not been located, even though there was ample evidence of nest material gathering. Ravens with young were seen by others here at Bush Terminal, and in Chelsea in Manhattan this spring and summer. The same birds? I haven’t seen more than two. Occasionally one will fly overhead here at the top of the moraine. A fellow birder photographed three on the Green-Wood entrance gate on Saturday.

The old warehouses along Brooklyn’s coast may act somewhat like cliffs, pushing up the winds to let the birds coast along them. (A pair of Peregrines did the same thing soon after the first sighting of Ravens that morning.)

I have a lot of questions about these birds. How many pairs are in the city? Where do they nest and roost for the night? Two youngsters were seen in Bush Terminal this year; what happened to them? What are they eating? Ravens are generalists when it comes to food, but tend to eat a lot of carrion in the country, via roadkill and hunter by-product; the youngsters especially need lots of protein. I am now reading Bernd Heinrich’s Mind of the Raven to raven-up.IMG_3976Thinking about Ravens got me to writing this about the captives in London.

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