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The Biology of the Common Raven

Introduction

The common raven (Corvus corax) is one of the widely widespread bird species in the world. They have lived next to human beings across the northern hemisphere for many years; they are believed to be amongst the smartest of all birds. They are stocky and entirely black, including the legs, eyes, and beak, and thrive among the humans. They fly across the sky filling the empty spaces with their echoing croak. These birds managed to adapt to the increased pace of technological development in the world; therefore, they created new habitats. Common ravens usually prey on the smaller species and shrike nests of other birds. When the ravens are feeding their offspring, the predation risk among them is exceptionally high.

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Nature of the Common Ravens

This bird has developed a unique style of acrobatic flying. Various somersaults and rolls it does in the air are typical of their flying style. The ravens are extremely enduring; they can fly upside down for many miles. Its young ones love to play with sticks, dropping them repeatedly and diving to catch them in midair. Heinrich (1989) notes that, during the winter season, the young ravens share a carcass with other birds. These birds live in numerous flocks. The coming in large numbers helps them force out the owners of the local territory in order to access food. The breeding ravens stick to particular territories and try to frighten away other ravens and birds.

The common ravens are extremely dangerous predators. This is attributed to their exceptional intelligence. They work together to raid other birds, usually endangered ones. One bird is usually meant for distracting while the others grab the food: an egg or a chick. Sometimes they just wait in trees until the ewes give birth, then they attack their newborn lambs. A study has also shown that they utilize their intelligence in putting together the cause and effect. For example, when they hear a gunshot they search the territory for presumed food. Other birds, however, usually ignore such loud but undisruptive sounds.

Ravens threaten the endangered species like desert tortoises or birds, and even people among others. They could cause power problems contaminating the power line insulators, polluting the satellite dishes, and many more. An interesting feature of this bird is that it can mock other birds’ voice or even emulate human words. This bird can live up to seventeen years.

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Habitat

The ravens are found mostly across the Northern Hemisphere: in beaches, deciduous and coniferous forests, mountains, islands, grasslands, deserts, fields, and even on ice floes. They like the forsaken human habitations, isolated homes, farms, and the rural settlements. Recent technological development and industrialization have made them inhabit the areas where they were not met previously. These new habitats include artificial ponds, irrigation sites on deserts, and garbage sites among others. Nevertheless, they are gradually moving back into the forests that regenerate as explained by Boarman and Heinrich (1999).

Feeding

Ravens feed on almost anything they can find or get. They eat tortoises, mice, pigeons, scorpions, eggs, grasshoppers, fish, grains, fruit, and many more products, including human food.

Nesting

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Ravens have a clutch of 3-7 eggs with only one broods. Their eggs are 4.4-5.2 cm long and 3.1-3.6 cm wide. According to Young and County (2012), the incubation period is 20-25 days with nestling period of 28-50 days. Their eggs are usually blue, olive, or green and are often molted with olive, dark greenish or purplish brown dots. Their nests are usually built by females though the males bring the sticks and other materials. The nests are 5 feet wide and 2 feet tall, and it takes almost 9 days to make it. The nests are usually placed on structures, power lines, bridges, high trees, cliffs, or billboards.

Behavior

These birds are extremely intelligent, bold, curious, and playful. They always like to be alone or in pairs. Their walking style is usually a confident one: siding or sometimes a swagger. Ravens always work together to solve the problems. When they find an extra food, they always store some for later like the way jays and crows store seed.

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