Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Ravens are flocking; winter is here

The weather is suddenly cold by my standards at least. +1C today was the high and tonight it will drop to -4C. Forecast for the next 10 days is more of the same.

The ravens have been flocking now for a couple weeks. They do that every winter to rustle food in the daylight and roost at night. They will split up in spring again. They mate for life and both parents tend the young of which there may be 5 to 7. 

These are North Eurasian ravens, Corvus corax, and are slightly smaller than the Northern Raven of North America, Corvus principalis. Their beak is also shorter and hooked.

I don't think we have crows per se here as the Russian word for raven and crow is the same. Verona or veron. Our birds make a croaking sound rather than a cawing sound.

We also have rooks, Corvus frugilegus, which look like ravens but have a whitish, grey face and bill. I have seen a few but mostly ravens.

All this to introduce a poem I wrote a while back. 

The Crow

The crow sat on the garden fence.

To the world, he caw’d his discontent.

I watched him through my windowpane

And wondered that he would complain.

As his fellows flew from tree to tree,

“Old Crow”, thought I, “you are so free.”


Free to wander, free to fly,

Free to eat or freeze or die.

No one cares if you cease to be,

You’ve no responsibility.

Nothing rests on what you do.

You see the world with “bird’s eye” view.


Food and shelter, mates and friends,

Foes and danger, your only ends.

You do not ponder worlds above,

Or mysteries of life and love.

While I sit trapped in human skin,

You’re free to caw and fly again.


The crow sat on the garden fence;

To the world, he caw’d his discontent.

I watched him through my windowpane

Then looked across the windswept plain,

“Old Crow”, thought I, “you may be free,

But love’s worth more than liberty.”

Alexei Kondratievich Savrasov (1830–1897), Rooks have Returned (1871), oil on canvas, 62 x 48.5 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow


Anonymous said...

There's a great book called Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich, a professor at the University of Vermont. The flocks are groups of young ravens, the ones who fledged last spring. They cooperate in the winter to keep older, more experienced ravens from chasing them away from food. One factoid that intrigued me was how early in the spring ravens hatch eggs -- they time it for when snow levels are dropping so the parents can take advantage of winter-killed deer and other cadavers as it emerges from the melting drifts.

The Blog Fodder said...

Thank you for this information. I wish you had left a name.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Good poem!

Ol'Buzzard said...

As with southern Maine, hear in the foothills we have numerous crows, but up around the Rangeley Lakes the large Raven is common. These are large birds with wide wingspans and big beaks.

Athabaskan Indians pray to the Raven. Check out YouTube: Make Prayers to the Raven. My wife and I spent eight years among the Athabaskan Indians of Alaska.
the Ol'Buzzard

Snowbrush said...

In western Oregon, there are crows but no ravens.

I enjoyed the poem and art.