The handsome Raven is intelligent, curious and playful. ("Curious Raven" note cards available here.)
Behind the lens.
Whenever winter lands hard across Montana, I think of Ravens. Wind, snow -- Ravens.
Two or three serious blizzards have lured me into the mountains when I probably should have stayed home. But each time I ventured into the crushing cold, I found Ravens at play. Ravens making great looping, roller coaster flights into gale-force winds. Flights that lacked any apparent direction or purpose, flights that just looked fun. I trudged home half-numb but full of respect.
Ravens provided the inspiration for many Native American stories, and now they are acknowledged as one of the most intelligent and wide-ranging of all bird species. They are year-round residents here in the western half of Montana. Unlike Crows, which are smaller and often live in flocks in towns, Ravens tend to live in monogamous pairs in the wild, undeveloped areas that remain.
Displays of their ingenuity have been noted often. Ravens have been seen defending their nest by dropping stones on approaching people, and passing food through a zoo cage to feed a hungry vulture in freezing weather. The association between Ravens and wolves is also well-documented.
Ravens are scavengers, but they are unable to tear open a fresh carcass. So they learned to follow wolves (and wolf tracks) and scavenge their kills. Calling Ravens are also hought to alert wolves to the freshly deceased. Once torn open by wolves, the carcass becomes accessible to the Ravens. But it gets a little more complex.
Ravens have also learned to make seasonally-appropriate responses to howling wolves. Ravens generally ignore wolf howls between April and September, when wolves tend to hunt smaller items, and most howling occurs near the den site. But in winter, Ravens actively follow the wild chorus of howling wolves. In winter, wolves tend to hunt in groups and kill larger prey, which can take several days to completely consume. This change in wolf hunting tactics gives Ravens ample opportunities to scavenge meals.