The Common Raven (Corvus corax)
By Mallory Ortego and Nicki Frey
Ravens for over centuries have been associated with death and dark omens and the symbolism of the raven creates a dark and eerie staging for the reader. The most famous is the example of the raven repeatedly croaking “Nevermore!” in the poem by the same name penned by Edgar Allen Poe. In several Native American cultures, the raven is portrayed as a selfish, trickster figure, not be trusted.
In London, the ravens at the Tower of London are portrayed as guardians of the Tower. Legend has it that the “kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leaves the fortress.” To this day, the Tower of London currently houses seven ravens that are cared for by the Raven Master.
Their distribution throughout the Northern Hemisphere is one reason why there are so many myths and stories. The raven can be found all throughout the Northern Hemisphere from the icy Artic to the Mediterranean. Ravens can be found in rural settings such as forests and open spaces to small small towns and even cities.
The Raven will eat almost what ever it can get a hold of, which is why they are seen in such different environments. They eat carrion, which is the decaying flesh of dead animals and will consume different types of bugs, fish, berries and any type of human food.
Both ravens and crows are protected by the International Migratory Bird Treat Act, which regulates lethal control of birds that migrate among countries in North America. To date, crows can be hunted in several states and Utah is considering this option. Ravens are protected from hunting; however, their populations can be regulated by USDA Wildlife Services, which has a permit to manage populations of ravens in areas where they are causing conflicts with sheep and cattle operations.
So the next time you come across this all black, large beaked and large bodied bird in either the field down the road or in your backyard, just remember
that the “croak” calling from above is the common raven and that he may have the ability to trick you with his intelligence or treat you with his protection during this spooky month of October. Happy Halloween!