Standing on the dock at Raven Lake, we used our binoculars to watch a sleek black bird dip its wings and gently land on a dark ledge on the cliffs of Marshall Mountain. The “diamond of doom” shaped tail gave the bird away – it was a Common Raven. We watched as the raven settled into a pile of sticks and sit for a period of time. The raven was nesting! Eventually, another raven came in and the two switched places. We watched one raven poke its beak into the nest, presumably rotating the eggs. We have seen ravens around Wolf Ridge carrying sticks and supplies for nest building, so they must have started incubating their eggs recently. Ravens will sit on their nests for about 20 days.
Ravens belong to the Genus “Corvus,” which in has Latin roots indicating the color black, and the species “corax,” meaning croak. It is easy to tell a raven from a crow simply by its name – black, with a distinctive croaking call. You can also distinguish the two by remembering “square” crows have square tails, while ravens have diamond shaped tails. Ravens are known as one of the most intelligent birds in the world. We will continue to keep an eye out for baby ravens in April!
by Elizabeth Gerrits and Sonja Smerud