The Common Raven is extraordinarily widespread worldwide, both in terms of its distribution and its habitats. It is the largest member of the passerines, or songbird family. Famous for its intelligence and mischievousness, the Common Raven plays a prominent role in world folklore.
Common Ravens are usually seen singly or in pairs, though at carcasses a larger number may gather to feed. One dominant bird usually gets the prime feeding opportunity, and ravens will carry food large distances in an attempt to cache it out of sight of other ravens.
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Description of the Common Raven
The Common Raven is our largest corvid. It is all black, with a large, heavy bill and a shaggy throat. Length: 24 in. Wingspan: 53 in.
View the Bent Life History for detailed information.
Seasonal change in appearance
Similar to adults but with gray-bases to the neck feathers.
Mountains, deserts, boreal forests, and coastal cliffs.
Common Ravens will eat almost anything, including insects, rodents, amphibians, eggs, young birds, and carrion.
Common Ravens frequently forage in pairs, and mostly on the ground.
Common Ravens are found across much of western and northern North America, south to Central America, and in parts of the Old World. After a sharp decline in the 1800s, Common Ravens have been increasing in recent decades.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Common Raven.
The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
The Common Raven is the largest passerine in North America.
Ravens are very intelligent, known even to pull up the lines of ice fishermen to eat the bait fish.
Very deep croaks, and a wide variety of other sounds.
The American Crow is smaller, with smaller bill and sightly rounded, not wedge-shaped tail.
The Northwestern Crow is smaller, with smaller bill and rounded, not wedge-shaped tail. Calls are distinctive. Ranges overlap in the limted range of the Northwestern Crow.
Chihuahuan Ravens are smaller, have longer nasal bristles, and have white-based body feathers which may be seen when wind disturbs the feathers. Ranges overlap in limited areas of the southwest United States and into Mexico.
The nest is a bulky structure of sticks, lined with grasses, moss, and animal hair. It is placed on a cliff ledge or in a tall tree, and may be used again in subsequent years.
Number: Usually lay 4-6 eggs.
Color: Greenish and marked with brown.
Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 20-25 days, and leave the nest in another 5-6 weeks, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.
Bent Life History of the Common Raven
Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.
Bent Life History for the Common Raven – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.
CORVUS CORAX PRINCIPALIS Ridgway
The raven is a cosmopolitan species, widely distributed over all the continents of the Northern Hemisphere; it has been separated into several subspecies, only two of which are recognized as North American. The range of this subspecies extends, according to the 1931 Check-list, from the Arctic regions in “northwestern Alaska, Melville Island, northern Ellesmere Island, and northern Greenland south to Washington, central Minnesota, Michigan, coast region of New Jersey (formerly), and Virginia, and in the higher Alleghanies to Georgia.” This seems like a very extended and rather unusual distribution and suggests that Dr. H. C. Oberholser (1918) might be justified in giving the name C. c. europhilus to the bird he described from the Eastern United States.
The haunts of ravens and their behavior vary greatly in different portions of their range, depending on where they can most easily find their food and where they are least likely to be disturbed. In the far north they range widely over the open treeless tundra, along the seacoast and the banks of rivers, hunting for the carcasses of animals slain by hunters and the remains of sea-animal life washed up by the storms, or stealing the bait from fox traps; here they are also common about the Hudson’s Bay Co. stations and the camps and villages of the natives, where they can usually find scraps and are not molested.
When we stopped for supplies at Ketchikan in southern Alaska, we found ravens very common and familiar. They came flocking down from the heavily forested mountains back of the town to compete with the gulls and crows for the garbage thrown out on the shore. They seemed much at home in the village also, perching unafraid on the roofs of houses or on the totem poles. They are useful as scavengers here and are not disturbed.
We found ravens common all through the treeless Aleutian Islands, frequenting the steep grassy hillsides and the rocky cliffs. In Iliuliuk Village on Unalaska Island they were especially abundant and absurdly tame. Along the beach and about the houses they were as tame as hens, sitting on the fences or on the roofs of houses like tame crows. They knew that they were safe here and made no attempt to fly away, unless we approached too near, when they merely hopped off to one side or flew a short distance to some low perch.
Farther south, along the Pacific coast and islands of Alaska, and on the Atlantic coast from Maine northward, ravens frequent the rocky cliffs along the shores and are especially apt to establish themselves in the vicinity of sea-bird colonies, where they can prey on the eggs and young of these birds. Here they are also found on the islands that are heavily wooded with spruces and other coniferous trees, sometimes placing their nests in the midst of heron colonies, which suffer from their depredations.
From Pennsylvania southward, ravens are mountain birds, living in the Carolinas usually above 3,000 feet, far above the range of the crows; from these heights they sometimes descend to the valleys, or even the islands along the coast, to forage among the colonies of sea birds. Dr. Samuel S. Dickey (MS.) tells me that in the mountains of Pennsylvania and the Virginias “most of them prefer to dwell among rocks, such as serpentine, quartzite, sandstone, and shale. They resort to perpendicular cliffs, to escarpments thrust above forests on the flanks of mountains, and to sloping talus beds in the valleys of streams. When such sites are molested by too frequent visits of mankind, or when blasting takes place for construction of railroads and highways, then ravens will move away. They will, if the case requires them to do so, take shelter in various species of evergreen growth.” The Rev. J. J. Murray tells me that the raven is fairly common in Rockbridge County, in the center of the valley of Virginia. “It seems to me to be commoner now than it was 10 years ago. This is particularly true in the Blue Ridge Mountains”
Courtship: Richard C. Harlow (1922), who has had considerable experience with ravens in Pennsylvania, believes that they remain mated for life. He bases this assumption on the fact that certain pairs that he has watched year after year show certain individual characteristics by which he can recognize them. The males show striking peculiarities in behavior and voice. Certain pairs always nest on cliffs, though suitable trees are readily available; other pairs always nest in trees, close to available cliff sites; and the eggs of each female run true to form each year. These are not, of course, positive proofs of his theory, but they are at least suggestive. He says of the courtship:
The pair return to the cliff together usually the first week in February, at first only for a short visit each day, and later several visits. A heavy storm at this time usually delays these visits for several days. At this time I have seen them go to the nesting ledge, the female usually alighting on the ledge and the male on a dead stub nearby and spend ten or fifteen minutes there. At this time they often soar together high up in the air with wing tips touching, the male always slightly above the female. At times he will give a wonderful display of his prowess on the wing, either dropping like a meteor for several hundred feet and fairly hissing through the air in the manner of the male Duck Hawk, or tumbling like a pigeon over and over. During this period also, I have found them perched together high up in an old dead tree caressing each other with bills touching.
Nesting: In the far iiorth, beyond the tree limit, ravens have to nest on the cliffs, usually near the coast, and often on the same cliffs with gyrfalcons. But where suitable trees are to be found, they often nest in them. MacFarlane (1891) found this species abundant at Fort Anderson and on the lower Lockhart and Anderson Rivers. “All but one of the eight recorded nests were situated on tall pines, and composed of dry willow sticks and twigs and thickly lined with either deer hair or dry mosses, grasses, and more or less hair from various animals.” Major Bendire (1895) says: “While nesting sites on cliffs are generally resorted to along the seashore, in the interior of Alaska on the Yukon River, as well as on the numerous streams in British North America flowing into the Arctic Ocean, they resort to some extent to trees, probably on account of the absence of the cliffs. Mr. James Lockhart found a nest in a cleft of a poplar tree, 20 feet from the ground, at Fort Yukon, Alaska, on May 29, 1862. *** Their nests resemble those of the American Raven in construction. Near the seashore they are usually lined with dry grasses, mosses, and seaweed, while hair of the musk ox and moose is often used when procurable in the interior”
In the Magdalen Islands I saw three nests, quite inaccessible with any means at our disposal, on high rocky promontories facing the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In northern Ungava, Lucien M. Turner (MS.) found the ravens nesting on cliffs near the seashore and about the mouths of rivers.
The northern raven breeds regularly on the wooded islands on the coast of Maine, where I have seen several nests in the vicinity of Penobscot and Jerico Bays. On June 10, 1899, I visited Bradbury Island in Penobscot Bay for the purpose of investigating a breeding colony of great blue herons. This is a high island, with steep rocky sides and open pastures in the center, and is heavily wooded at both ends with firs and spruces and a few white birches. There was a rather large colony of the herons here, and in the midst of the colony was a raven’s nest. A pair of ravens were flying about overhead, croaking and cawing angrily, and on the ground nearby were three of the herons’ eggs, with big holes in the ends and the contents still fresh, as if recently taken from a nest; evidently we had disturbed the ravens at their stolen feast.
During the next two years I came earlier and found several old and new nests on Dumpling and Fog Islands in Penobscot Bay, and on some of the islands in Jerico Bay. The nests were all in spruce trees in thick woods, at heights varying from 25 to 32 feet above ground. Most of them were conspicuous from the ground below, but one was well hidden in a thick top. They were mostly huge structures, 2 to 3 feet in diameter and nearly as much in height; evidently they are sometimes added to from year to year, as we know that the Dumpling Island nest was used for three years in succession. They were made of crooked sticks as large as a man’s thumb, mixed with smaller sticks and twigs. The nests were deeply hollowed and were warmly lined with sheep’s wool and sometimes a little usnea; in one nest there was a patchwork lining of black-and-white wool. These ravens evidently lay at irregular intervals, for on April 23, 1900, I examined a nest containing two fresh eggs and another with two lusty young.
But Maine ravens do not all nest on the coastal islands. Paul F. Eckstorm writes to me: “On March 28, 1940, I took a set of five eggs from a nest situated in a crevice of a cliff 27 feet above the highest shelf accessible on foot. The nest was about 4 feet in diameter from front to rear, with the cavity at the rear 6 inches from the back wall. The nest was made roughly of course sticks, largely hemlock, and lined entirely with deer hair taken from some old carcass. The top of the cliff bulges into a great overhang extending like a roof about 6 feet above and, in places, 10 feet beyond the nest site. The nest was located near a large pond and about 15 miles back from the general coastal trend. The cliff has a southern exposure and warms up in advance of the adjacent flatter country”
Mr. Harlow (1922) has given us a most comprehensive account of the nesting of the raven in Pennsylvania, from which I quote the following extracts:
There are two distinct types of nesting site chosen here in Pennsylvania: the cliff site and the tree site (the cliff nests outnumbering the tree nests in the proportion of about eight to one). * **
One feature is almost invariably demanded by the cliff nesting Ravens and that is that the location be dark and well shaded. Usually the darkest available section of the cliff is selected where the ledges are shaded by hemlocks which often grow on the smallest ledge on the face of the cliff. Very frequently the nest will be placed under an overhanging tongue of rock so that it will be protected from above and I have yet to see a nest in use that is not sheltered either by trees or by an overhang. *** The height of the cliff seems to be a secondary consideration to the shade, though rarely is a cliff with a straight drop of less than fifty feet chosen and they run from there up to two hundred feet.
In the case of the tree nesting Ravens, the first requisite they seem to demand is the highest available tree, and the second is good cover in the very top of the tree. The tree nests are giant structures over four feet across and yet the birds conceal them so well in the very top of the tree that they are frequently very hard to see from the ground. * * * The tree nests are usually placed in a double or triple vertical crotch from seventy to over one hundred feet up, nearly always the highest available strong crotch but in one instance a horizontal crotch four feet out on a large limb was used.
The base of the nest varies from little more than three feet to five feet in the largest nests with an average of almost four feet. The cavity averages a foot in diameter and six inches in depth, the depth varying considerably. * * * The base is composed almost entirely of dead branches and sticks, freshly broken by the birds themselves. When built upon last year’s nest, the freshly broken sticks make a sharp line of contrast where they are built upon the old excrement bespattered rim of the previous year. Some of these dead branches are over three quarters of an inch in diameter and over three feet long. * * *
The two most constant features of the cup lining are bark shreds and deer hair, the latter predominating when available. * * * The bark strips, shreds and ilbres are obtained from dead trees, underneath the rough outer bark and they frequently use grapevine shreds as well. Some nests are lined almost entirely with white hair from the belly of the deer and some with red from the back, the birds using just what is available from the carcass. Outside of these main features the lining varies according to material available in the various localities. Tufts of hair from domestic cattle or from dogs as well as horse hair are frequently found. Bits of fur from the skunk, opossum and wildcat, sheep wool, bits of green moss scraped from the sides of rocks are all used by various pairs. I have found one nest heavily felted with material which the birds had been picking from an old felt hat and in another lining were bits of rope. Perhap* the most striking nest was one containing a heavy lining of deer hair and flourishing on one side of the cavity was the entire tail of a deer. * * *
The Raven is essentially a solitary bird and the nests of different pairs are usually a considerable distance apart. The only pairs I know of which nest at all near to one another are six miles apart. I know of no bird which comes into direct contact with the Raven during the breeding season but the Duck Hawk. * * * There seems to he a mutual respect between the two species and though they have occasional disagreements I have known them to nest on ledges only forty feet apart, the Raven having young while the Duck Hawk bad eggs.
Dr. Samuel S. Dickey has sent me some extensive and interesting notes on ravens in various parts of the country, but space will allow only a few extracts. His notes on Pennsylvania ravens agree very closely with the foregoing quotations from Mr. Harlow’s published paper. Out of 17 nests recorded in his notes, 13 were on cliffs or ledges, 3 were in hemlocks at heights varying from 45 to 80 feet, and one was in a white pine at 85 feet above ground. He says that when the season is not too backward and cold ravens may begin carrying sticks for the nest during the middle of February, and he has seen nests finished as early as February 25, but that most nests are not ready for eggs until March. “Ravens usually take what they want rather near at hand, although they may move off some miles for substances suitable for the lining. I have known them to enter the forest, remain either in undergrowth or low branches, and shortly arise with a sizable stick in the bill. After the bird had arisen to a height of several hundred feet, it would begin to circle, the stick in its bill visible through a field glass. Then it would toss the stick loose from its hold, would snap at it, thrust forth the body and take it again, and even drop the stick and plunge admirably downward, taking the stick from the air before it struck the ground”
Walter B. Barrows (1912) mentions a nest, found by Dr. Max M. Peet on Isle Royale, Lake Superior, that was in a very unusual location. He quotes Dr. Peet as follows: “While exploring the ruins of the deserted town near the head of Siskowit Bay, on September 10, a nest of the Northern Raven was found in the old stamp mill. It was placed in the small hollow formerly occupied by the metal plate upon which the head of the stamp fell. The side walls of the stamp mill are broken down in places so that the entrance to the interior was simple”
Eggs: The northern raven is said to lay two to eight eggs to a full set. Four and five are the commonest numbers. The largest sets seem to be found in the far north; MacFarlane (1891) says six to eight, but Harlow (1922) reports that in Pennsylvania sets of three are rather common and that certain pairs never lay more than three or four; he says that six is very rare and that he has only one record each of seven and two. Dr. Dickey records only one set of seven. The eggs are indistinguishable from those of the American raven, which are more fully described hereinafter.
Some eggs of eastern ravens are so heavily marked that the ground color is nearly obscured, and others are so faintly and sparingly marked that they resemble some types of eggs of the white-necked raven. Often dark and light types occur in the same set, suggesting that the pigment may have become nearly exhausted before the last egg was laid. The measurements of 50 eggs average 50.2 by 34.3 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 56.0 by 33.3, 50.8 by 36.1, 41.7 by 33.0, and 44.5 by 30.2 millimeters.
Young: Several observers agree that the period of incubation is about three weeks and that the young remain in the nest about four weeks. Harlow (1922) says that during incubation “the male feeds the female upon the nest but does not as a rule sit upon the eggs except in cold stormy weather when the female leaves the nest for food”
Dr. Dickey says in his notes: “When the eggshells curl and burst, the infants squirm in the cup of the nest. They are weak organisms, streaked with orange, yellow, and dusky and having areas of dusky gray down upon them. They are gorged with food periodically, about every half hour during daylight hours, by both male and female parents. Thus they grow fast and within five days disclose bands of slate-blue pinfeather shafts upon their wings and tails, as well as in stripes on their breast and sides. The pinfeather shafts then disintegrate and scatter the deciduous scales; these fall into the nest and spot its rim. Thus the dull, lusterless first feathers appear; they almost conceal the bare skin coloration. Gradually the entire pinfeather scabbards disintegrate and the first plumage dominates”
W. Bryant Tyrrell has sent me some notes on two nests, found on ledges in Shenandoah National Park, Va. In one of these the young were just hatched on March 26, 1939, and were well feathered on April 23. He says that the young “stay in the nest four or five weeks, though the adults have to look after and feed them for some time after their leaving the nest”
Young ravens, during their first summer at least, are often absurdly tame. Langdon Gibson (1922) says that young birds that he observed in Greenland “were trusting and inquisitive. At our boat camp in August, 1891, on Hakluyt Island, some young birds alighting on the flat shelving rocks on which we were cooking our evening meal, literally walked into camp, and at distances of no more than fifteen feet, ate the entrails of Guillemots that we tossed to them. We found them playful and at the expense of ‘Jack,’ a Newfoundland dog, amused themselves by leading him a chase. The birds would allow ‘Jack’ to approach within a few feet and then with a flop or a hop, would keep just out of his reach”
Theed Pearse tells me that on Vancouver Island young ravens are very unsuspicious, settling on nearby low trees and gurgling, and allowing approach to within 25 or 30 feet, or flying over within easy gunshot range.
Young birds, taken from the nest shortly before they reach the flight stage and reared in captivity, make interesting and amusing pets, much like young crows in behavior.
Plumages: Two young ravens that I found in a nest on the coast of Maine were about as large as pigeons; they had evidently been hatched blind and naked, for their eyes were not quite open, and they had developed only a scanty growth of grayish-brown down on the dorsal tract. They were not attractive objects; their abdomens were fat and distended, as if they had been well fed; and their great, gaping, red mouths were wide open, as they stretched up their heavy heads on their weak and shaky necks.
The development of the plumage is referred to above. The juvenal plumage is practically fully acquired, with most of the natal down rubbed off, before the young bird leaves the nest. In the full juvenal plumage, the wings and the tail are much like those of the adult, clear lustrous black with greenish and purplish reflections, but the contour plumage of the head and body is dull brownish black, without any metallic luster. A partial postjuvenal molt, involving the contour plumage and the lesser wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings and tail, occurs in summer, beginning in July or earlier; this molt is sometimes completed in July and sometimes not until August or early in September. This produces a first winter plumage that is practically adult, full lustrous black, with the peculiar shaggy and attenuated feathers on the throat. Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in summer and early in fall, apparently at about the same time as the young birds; I have two adults in my collection, from Alaska, that were in full molt, body, wings, and tail, on June 11; and in some cases the molt is not completed until October. The sexes are alike in all plumages. Spring birds show some signs of wear and fading, but apparently no molt. Theed Pearse tells me that molting is very irregular and that he has seen adults molting their primaries as early as May 15 and others still molting as late as October 21.
Food: The northern raven is one of our most omnivorous birds and a filthy feeder. Almost any kind of animal food that it can catch, kill, or find is grist to its mill. In the far north, especially in winter, it must live largely on carrion, the carcasses of various animals that it finds cast up on the shores. Dr. Dickey was told that in the dead of winter, when hard pressed for food, ravens will follow the dog teams and fight for the steaming dung as soon as dropped by the dogs.
Dr. George M. Sutton (1932) writes of their winter feeding habits on Southampton Island: “Rarely, if ever, did they prey upon ptarmigans or Arctic Hares, though they were known to pursue and even occasionally to wait for lemmings; but their principal food appeared to be the carcasses of walruses, seals, or whales, which were located and regularly fed upon before the winter set in. A dead whale thus sometimes furnishes a flock of ravens sustenance for the winter, after the gulls have departed and the Polar Bears gone to sleep. In patrolling their range they keep an eye open for all seals killed at the edge of the floe, or for caribou, freshly dragged down by the Arctic Wolves. And there are always, of course, the fox-traps, where they can steal bait, pull the foxes to pieces, or tear up the Snowy Owls, which have been caught”
Lucien M. Turner says in his unpublished notes on Ungava: “In the fall of the year they eat great quantities of berries and, after having satiated their hunger, repair to the rocks on a point of land and digest them. Their stains are everywhere visible on the rocks.” In October he found scores of ravens along the Koksoak River, “where they had collected to feed upon the refuse of the hundreds of carcasses of reindeer, which had been speared by the Indians and Eskimos, and decomposing along the banks, whither the winds and currents had drifted them”
In the summer time along the coast and islands of southern Alaska, where the ravens live in the vicinity of sea-bird colonies, they make an easy living by robbing the nests of gulls, murres, and cormorants. As soon as a nest is left unprotected, the ravens dash in, seize an egg or young bird, and fly off with it. When a man invades the colonies all the sea birds leave their nests, and the ravens make repeated raids, returning again and again to carry off egg after egg, concealing for future use what they cannot eat at once.
Theed Pearse mentions (MS.) some feeding habits of ravens on Vancouver Island. He has seen them while feeding on the tidal flats “fly up and down with a bump on wet sand and search the -surrounding area, presumably for sandworms disturbed.” One was seen following a grazing heifer, keeping close behind it and picking up the insects disturbed; one appeared to follow right at the heels of the beast, “kept looking up, then periodically it would fly up to the flank, either picking up an insect or, as the action suggested, impatient at the slowness of progress.” He has also seen ravens following a plow, as the gulls do; and once he saw one “feeding on Saskatoon berries, from which it drove away a flock of crows.” He says, in its favor: “During the years of great abundance here, there were broods of ducks raised close to where there would be 20 or more ravens each day. I never saw any sign of ravens attacking young birds or chickens, and the congested area was all farm land with chickens running about the fields”
J. A. Munro reports to me that the stomach of a raven, taken on July 25 in British Columbia, contained a mass of blackberry pulp and seeds, 90 percent, and the fragments of a shore crab; another, taken August 14, held 10 fly maggots, 70 percent, fragments of an amphibian, two winged ants, and 3 seeds.
Dr. Dickey (MS.) writes of the feeding habits of ravens in Pennsylvania: “Along the major rivers of the Appalachians I have noticed that they frequent the banks of streams to procure dead animal matter cast up by freshets. They take crayfish, mussels, minnows, fish, tadpoles, and frogs. Where mountain folk haul carcasses of horses and cows into lonely recesses of the uplands, I have known ravens to appear and cleanse the bones. They contend with crows, starlings, blue jays, and turkey buzzards for morsels of food. I have found that, when they have gorged themselves on organic matter, they will dig circular holes in sod, about 3 inches wide and 4 inches deep, in which they bury pieces of meat that they desire to have properly seasoned. They return and utilize it at an opportune time”
Reid McManus (1935) tells of a raven that entered a henhouse in New Brunswick, when food was scarce in the winter, and killed a sickly hen; it escaped when surprised but returned to feed and was killed; its stomach contained only a piece of skin from the hen and a few feathers. Mr. Harlow (1922) has known ravens “to eat the buds of various trees when bard pressed for food.” There are several other items, not referred to above, that have been mentioned as included in the raven’s varied diet, viz: Mice, rats, lizards, snakes, various insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets, several forms of marine invertebrates picked up along the seashore, and mollusks. The raven seems to have learned from the gulls, or perhaps the gulls have learned from the raven, the trick of breaking the shells of mollusks by dropping them on the rocks.
A study of the food of the raven would seem to indicate that it is not a serious menace to man’s interests. The harm that it does to young lambs, poultry, or wild birds’ eggs is probably overestimated and more than offset by the good it does in the destruction of injurious rodents and insects. Most ravens live far away from human habitations, and where they do come in contact with villages, trading posts, and camps in the north they are useful as scavengers.
Charles Macnamara tells me that in the lumber camps of Ontario in winter “the shanty men, working too far from their camp to return f or dinner, were always careful to bury in the snow the flour bag containing their frugal meal of bread and pork, so as to hide it; for tho raven, if he found it, would promptly tear it open with his powerful beak and devour the contents. The French Canadians interpreted the birds’ hoarse cry as ‘Poch! Poche!’ (‘Bag! Bag!’), and said he was calling for the lunch bag”
Francis Zirrer says in his notes that ravens “often frequent those parts of heavy timber where the waters of the spring thaw and later rains remain longest. Very little vegetation develops in such places; the ground remains mostly bare. In the rich, black humus, however, an enormous number of larvae of various species of Diptera live.
And the ravens, besides many other birds, take full advantage of the abundant and nutritious food. Sedately they walk, swinging their bodies from side to side, or jump awkwardly back and forth, turning the leaves and pieces of bark and decayed wood or boring after the small but juicy morsels. During this period, and only then, one hears their metallic click, sounding like the stroke of a light hammer on a piece of heavy tin: one of the most remarkable sounds in the north Wisconsin woodlands. No one lucky enough to hear it will pass it without marvel, comment and inquiry as to the origin of it”
Behavior: The flight of the raven is so fully described under the following subspecies that it is hardly necessary to say anything further about it here. It shows great mastery of the air in its majestic flight; it can stand almost motionless in the teeth of a gale, hover in the air like a sparrow hawk, or take advantage of the upward current on a steep hillside to rise and circle like a large hawk. Mr. Pearse tells me that when these birds were so abundant there, there was a regular flight line night and morning to and from their feeding grounds toward the mountains in the interior of Vancouver Island; they always passed over sometime before dark and would return in the morning at a corresponding period after sunrise. They never went by in a flock, but in small parties of eight or more, once as many as 40. They probably had some roost in the interior. Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) mention a roost discovered by Captain Blakiston near Fort Carlton; his “attention was first drawn to it by noticing that about sunset all the Ravens, from all quarters, were flying towards this point. Returning to the fort in the evening by that quarter, he found a clump of aspentrees, none of them more than twenty-five feet high, filled with Ravens, who, at his approach, took wing and flew round and round. He also noted the wonderful regularity with which they repaired to their roosting-place in the evening and left it again in the morning, by pairs, on their day’s hunt. They always left in the morning, within a minute or two of the same time, earlier and earlier as the days grew longer, on cold or cloudy mornings a little later, usually just half an hour before sunrise”
The raven is one of our most sagacious birds, crafty, resourceful, adaptable, and quick to learn and profit by experience. Throughout most of its range and under ordinary circumstances it is exceedingly shy and wary; it is almost impossible to get within gunshot of one in the open; one is seldom seen flying from its nest, as it hears the intruder coming and departs; I have never seen one return to even the vicinity of its nest while I was near it. Yet it knows full well where and when it is safe; about the northern villages and stations, where it is appreciated as a scavenger and not molested, it is as tame as any dooryard bird; but even here it is always on the alert, and, if one picks up a stone or makes any other suspicious move, it is off in an instant. Kumlien (1879) relates the following, to illustrate its resourcefulness:
I have, on different occasions, witnessed them capture a young seal that lay basking in the sun near its hole. The first manoeuvre of the ravens was to sail leisurely over the seal, gradually lowering with each circle, till at last one of them dropped directly into the seal’s hole, thus cutting off its retreat from the water. Its mate would then attack the seal, and endeavor to drag or drive it as far away from the hole as possible. The attacking raven seemed to strike the seal on the top of the head with its powerful bill, and thus break the tender skull. * * *
I witnessed a very amusing chase after a Lepu.r glaciczhs. There were two ravens, and they gave alternate chase to the hare. Sometimes the raven would catch the hare by the ears, and hare and raven would roll down the mountain side together thirty or forty feet, till the raven lost his hold, and then its companion would be on hand and renew the attack. They killed the hare in a short time, and immediately began devouring it. * * *
Young reindeer fall an easy prey to them. When they attack a young deer, there are generally six or seven in company, and about one-half the number act as relays, so that the deer is given no rest. The eyes are the fixst parts attacked, and are generally speedily plucked out, when the poor animal will thrash and flounder about till it kills itself.
C. J. Maynard (1896) writes: “Dr. E. L. Sturtevant informed me that he was at one time standing on a beach at Grand Menan, when he saw a Gannet soaring very high in the air with, what appeared to be, a black spot above and below it. The bird seemed distressed and continued to mount upwards until both dark spots were seen to be above it, when suddenly it fell from that immense height, struck the ground, and was actually dashed to pieces by the force of the shock. Dr. Sturtevant approached it, when a Raven sprang from the body and flew away.~~ The behavior of ravens with other species of birds, notably crows, hawks, and vultures, has been commented on by many observers, but it is not always apparent which is the aggressor. Emerson Tuttle writes to me that the raven “rarely, if ever, leaves a sentinel on watch, relying on the crow or the herring gull to give the alarm. Once on the ground among crows and herring gulls, the raven dominates. I have seen a gull utter his screaming challenge in the face of a raven, but once the raven moved forward, the gull gave way. I have seen the raven and the goshawk together on several occasions. I watched a young goshawk chase and strike at a raven. The raven did not seem disturbed, though each time the goshawk rolled to one side and struck at him, the raven let out an oath and avoided the touch by rolling and dropping. It would be reading too much into the episode to suggest that the raven enjoyed the chase, but such was the impression he gave. The goshawk tired first and gave it up”
Crows often mob ravens, as they do owls or hawks, but seldom seriously attack one. Dr. Dickey (MS.) writes: “Two ravens emerged from a gigantic cliff. All at once a turkey buzzard flew down near the cliff and acted as if it were searching for something. One raven pursued this buzzard and actually struck it; the raven continued to pursue the slow-moving buzzard until four crows drew near. The crows harassed the raven, but it was too nimble on the wing to be actually hit by them. The raven would move speedily to the right or left every time the crows struck. Then the mate of the first raven appeared from trees, and two of them were attacked by the four crows. The buzzard in the meantime joined the throng; all the birds ended up in an apparent playful manner on the wing near the crags; they continued, while I watched, to make dives and sallies at one another”
He tells, also, of a “vicious combat” that took place between a redtailed hawk and a raven. “The raven, ired as it was about its molested nest, whipped and drove off the predator”
Rev. J. J. Murray writes to me: “I have reported in The Auk, on the word of a very trustworthy mountaineer, the amazing habit in the raven of worrying the turkey vulture until the vulture disgorges the food and then eating the vulture’s vomit. I have commonly seen crows chase ravens, but have only once noted the reverse”
Ravens sometimes display decidedly playful tendencies (some of which are mentioned under the American raven), aerial acrobatic feats, and spectacular dives. Theed Pearse tells me that he has seen similar behavior. One bird was seen carrying a fir cone in its beak. The tall Douglas firs “seemed alive with ravens,” and it was interesting to see them picking the cones; “the bird would fly up to the branch and hang onto the cone with its beak, with the wings partially extended, and get the cone off by tugging at it. There was one particular branch that seemed to attract them, at the top of a tall ragged tree open at the top. Birds would come to this same branch and clip off a small twig with the beak, sometimes holding it in the beak for a minute or so, even flying away with it, but usually the twig would be dropped when detached.” He saw another playing in the air with what looked like a piece of dried skin, dropping it and catching it in its claws.
Dr. Nelson (1887) says: “They have a common habit of rising high overhead with a sea-urchin (Echinus) in their beaks, and after reaching an elevation of several hundred feet of allowing the shell-fish to fall. As a consequence, it is common to find the shells of these radiates scattered all over the hill-sides in the vicinity of the sea; apparently the ravens do not do this with the intention of gaining readier access to the contents of the shell, and I do not recall a single instance where a raven followed the shell to the ground, although on several instances I have seen the birds dive hastily after the falling shell and capture it in their beaks before it reached the ground, apparently in sport”
Team play often enters into the raven’s activities. B. J. Bretherton wrote to Major Bendire (1895): “I saw a native dog one day with a bone which he vainly endeavored to eat. While so engaged he was espied by a Raven, who flew down and tried to scare the dog by loud cawing, in which he was shortly afterwards assisted by another, both birds sidling up to the dog’s head until they were barely out of his reach. Just at this time a third Raven appeared on the scene and surveyed the situation from an adjacent fence, but soon flew down behind the dog and advanced until within reach of his tail, which he seized so roughly that the dog turned for an instant to snap at him, and at the same moment the bone was snatched away by one of the Ravens at his head”
Lucien M. Turner (MS.) relates the following performance that he witnessed on the banks of the Koksoak River: “A few miles below the falls on the river I saw at one time over a hundred of these birds. The banks of the river at this locality were very high and crumbling with the process of freezing during the night and thawing during the day. Here the birds resorted to have the fun of coasting down this hillside. A dozen at a time would stand, either sidewise or with their heads upward, and start down with the rolling pebbles and clay, each bird constantly uttering its harsh croak, which reverberated among the hills until the air was filled with their coarse notes. This noise was heard over a mile before we paddled up to the birds, where we stopped to witness their amusement. The trees in the vicinity contained numbers of ravens aiding the sport with their cries of approval, or taking their turns as the others became tired”
Referring to its character, he says: “The raven is bold and fearless when able to cope with an adversary and rarely fails to drive any intruder but man from the locality. I have seen a single bird successfully attack a white gyrfalcon and cause it to forsake the hillside adopted by the raven for its home. On the other hand, the raven is one of the most cowardly birds, rarely attacking without certainty of superiority in itself, or trusting to its harsh notes to call assistance from its comrades”
Mr. Zirrer (MS.) adds the following notes on the behavior of ravens: “Although they brave storms when no other bird ventures in the open, they are, especially the young, much afraid of the heavy summer thunderstorms. Again and again I have noticed several of them, young birds I presume, sitting during the thunder, lightning, and heavy downpour on a strong, horizontal, lower branch of a big tree, under the protective canopy of densely leaved branches above, expressing all their fear and anxiety by stretching and craning their necks in all directions, and emitting many peculiar, plaintive sounds. At such times it was possible to approach them very closely without taking much precaution; the birds were plainly too frightened to be watchful.
“In localities where ravens are not persecuted and feel secure, they come very near the buildings and become bold. They will attack a cat within sight of a dwelling and take away whatever little game the cat might be carrying at the time. Early one morning, when our big white tomcat was on the way home with something, apparently a meadow mouse, and no more than 100 feet away, he was suddenly attacked by a pair of ravens with a design on that mouse. Without warning the two big birds, which must have been sitting on a tree nearby, dived at the big cat, which, surprised and not knowing what was happening, gave an enormous leap, dropped the mouse and ran. This, of course, was what the birds wanted. Picking up the mouse and disappearing among the tree tops, they went faster than I was able to tell”
Voice: The raven has a variety of notes. As I recorded it many years ago, on the coast of Maine, its commonest note seemed to be a loud croak, deep-toned, and audible at a great distance, croak e-croake; we also heard occasionally a hoarse croo-croo, not so loud or so penetrating; on one occasion we recorded a richer, more musical note, croaffg-Croaflg, with the resonance of a deep-toned bell, on a lower key than the other notes, less harsh and rather pleasing, and sometimes ending in a loud cluck. Then there was the short, guttural cur-risk or cruk, with the rolling r’s, given mostly on the wing, singly or repeated several times.
Mr. Harlow (1922) has heard “a very distinct hollow, sepulchral laugh ‘haw-haw-haw-haw.'” And he says: “During the period of courtship and incubation there are two distinct notes that I have not heard at any other time. One is a soft ‘crawk,’ which the male gives to the female when he is sitting near her while she is on the nest ledge or incubating. The other is a series of ‘crawks’ given while on the wing and with rarely a note best expressed by the syllables ‘ge-lick-ge-lee’ given either between the ‘crawks’ or still more rarely as a single note”
J. Dewey Soper (1928) gives the raven credit for considerable musical versatility. He writes: “The northern raven possesses a musical, guttural note with a slightly bell-like quality. This note is employed at times throughout the year. The raven at any time may, also, utter a strange call like thung-thung-thung, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the mellow twang of a tuning-fork, being, like it, rich, full, vibrant, and musical. Another expression has a metallic, liquid-like quality after the style of the red-winged blackbird, though greatly magnified in volume.
The ravens possess a great range of notes, from their customary melancholy croaks, through numerous performances in striking imitation of other birds such as geese and gulls, up to the melodious accomplishment first mentioned”
Mr. Tuttle took his flight pictures of ravens by imitating their rallying cry, which, he says “is rather like the second note of the peacock’s raucous call: ‘harraowh’. More than any bird I know, the raven will converse with himself for hours at a time, a curious gargling, strongly inflected talk. It is not very hard to steal up on him when he is so engaged.” He adds the following, as the raven’s conversation: Cdkonkcdhonk; cwaanh; cwahonk; onk-onk; craaounk; and koeh, koch.
Dr. Dickey says in his notes that “they rarely give evidence of what may also be called a song, so ardently do they vent a long, drawn-out strain, such as spor-spree-spruck-spur-perrick.rurruck Lisps, croaks, buzzing sounds, and gulps may be heard at odd intervals from ravens in the breeding season.~~ Mr. Zirrer writes in his notes: “From the middle of August to about the end of September, and as a rule in the afternoons only, they congregate in a secluded spot of heavy timber and hold their daily concerts. For this purpose they select one or two of the tallest trees, sit facing one another and sing, mostly solo, but sometimes more at once. The song is a musical warble, not very loud and, considering their size and otherwise rough, croaking call, extremely attractive. The birds, however, are very alert throughout the performance and when frightened once will not return to the same spot again, but otherwise they will return daily”
Field marks: To the casual observer a raven may look like just a large crow and so not be recognized. But to the trained eye of an ornithologist there are several points of difference. The raven is decidedly larger, with a wing expanse of over 4 feet, against less than 3 feet in the crow; its tail is also proportionately longer and more rounded. But size alone is not a safe guide unless there is direct comparison at the same distance.
Its voice is quite distinctive, as explained above, though young ravens sometimes “caw” like crows. And its flight is very different from that of the crow, swifter and less steady, with frequent turnings from side to side, accompanied by two or three rapid wing beats and with occasional attempts at tumbling; its sailing or soaring flight is majestic and often used.
Mr. Tuttle says (MS.): “The four field marks by which one can most easily distinguish the raven from the crow, lacking the presence of both birds for size comparison, are the heavy, triangular head, with apparent bulges at the base of the jaws as seen from below (probably the part where the brow joins the beak), the sharp break of the wings at the shoulders, the openings between the primaries, and the large fanshaped tail. All these. features can be clearly seen in the flight pictures submitted.” See plate 33.
Enemies: Ravens have few natural enemies. They have been known to have occasional squabbles with gyrfalcons, duck hawks, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, and crows, hut such encounters generally result in favor of the ravens, with little damage inflicted on either party. J. Southgate Y. Hoyt writes to me of such an incident that he witnessed near Lexington, Va., on April 7, 1939:
Just as we located this year’s nest, I heard the cry of a duck hawk. From around the end of the range came the raven with the duck hawk flying high above it, calling loudly. The raven croaked a few notes of protest, but continued its slow and deliberate flight along the range. As I watched this unusual sight, I saw something at which I still marvel.
The duck hawk stooped at the raven, calling faster. Just at the point when I expected to see the raven get a hard blow, it flipped over on its hack with its feet up in the air and warded off the blow. I could not see whether it used its feet or just assumed an attitude of guard. The raven did not seem to use its wings in turning over but was upside down in a small fraction of a minute. At this the falcon swooped up in the air again, still screaming loudly. The raven turned over again just as quickly as it had turned onto its hack and resumed its course slowly and steadily along the face of the mountain.
The duck hawk, having again reached its position over the raven, stooped as it had before. Again the raven turned over onto its hack to ward off the blow. This performance was repeated eight times as the raven crossed before me and finally settled in a pine tree at the end of the cliff. The duck hawk swooped up to a tall dead tree nearby and sat there motionless. The next I saw of the raven was the pair of them flying back along the top of the mountain, and the duck hawk was nowhere to be seen.
Visiting this same mountain again this spring (1940), I witnessed a similar performance between the raven and the duck hawk. This time the fight continued for several minutes high in the air over the edge of the mountain.
The raven’s worst and most effective enemy is man, because of the damage it does, or is supposed to do, to domestic animals, some wild animals, poultry, and nesting wildfowl and other game. Fortunately for the ravens, they are so sagacious and wary that very few can be shot, but many have been killed in crow traps and in various animal traps. Theed Pearse (1938) tells of large numbers that were trapped near Comox on Vancouver Island; 76 were trapped in 1933, 120 in 1934, 62 in 1935; “in 1936 the number taken was sixty-three, and in January alone of 1937, seventy were killed. Thus, during these years of abundance, four hundred Ravens were destroyed in the Crow traps alone, and it would be safe to add another hundred as having been shot or otherwise destroyed (I came across one caught in a trap set for Mink). The local Game Warden gives the huge total of 535 accounted for up-to-date”
He says that he “never saw a Raven doing anything that could be described as harmful to the farmer, the sportsman, or other bird life.” Ducks, mallard and teal, bred in the sloughs between the two slaughter houses where the ravens fed, and no diminution in the broods of these ducks was noted during the periods of greatest abundance of the ravens. One of their chief feeding grounds “appeared to be recently ploughed land and grass-fields where the birds could be seen picking up food, probably noxious insects such as cutworms, etc”
Fall: Most ravens are apparently resident throughout the year over the greater part of their range, but there is some evidence of at least a partial migration from extreme northern habitats. Hagerup (1891) referred to what seemed to be migrations at Ivigtut, Greenland, as follows: “I frequently noticed that when a strong wind blew from the north they migrated in great numbers toward the south. The largest of these migrations took place August 30, 1887, when one hundred to two hundred crossed the valley. They were seen through the entire day coming from the north side of the fjord, flying low over it, stopping a little at the south shore, then crossing the valley until they reached the mountains. At the base of the hills they first began to rise in the air, working upwards in spiral curves without any flapping of wings, until abreast of the summit, when they sailed away to the south”
Mr. Pearse’s notes state that “there appears to be a regular line of migration along the east coast of Vancouver Island.” Near Courtenay, on August 16, 1923, 30 were seen going south, following one another in a scattered formation and flying parallel to the shore line. Eleven were seen on October 12, 1936, and a flock of 25 or 30 on December 8, 1935, all flying along the shore in the same direction. He says: “Where the cliff makes an abrupt turn west, the birds seemed undecided and stopped, wheeling around and some even playing. After a short time the greater part of the flock moved seawards, going in an easterly direction away from Vancouver Island and in the direction of another island between there and the mainland, about 15 miles away. The other birds remained wheeling around above the cliff, evidently not liking to face the sea, though the day was fine and the sea calm. It was rather amusing to follow the actions of these birds; first a party of ten started off; others followed, so that more than half of the flock was on its way; there were some faint hearts among these, which straggled back to join the birds that were still wheeling over the land. Twelve at least continued the journey, and, shortly afterward, the faint hearts were out of sight around the b~’rd of the cliff, following the shore line.
Winter: At least a few ravens remain all winter, even at the northern limits of their breeding range. Donald B. MacMillan (1918) records it as a winter resident at Etah, northern Greenland, but says that the “majority migrate south about September 15th.” And Langdon Gibson (1922), referring to McCormick Bay, in latitude 770 40′ N. in northern Greenland, says: “I am fully satisfied that these birds do not all migrate in the fall because, after the sun had disappeared for the winter, we heard their hoarse croaking and five days before the sun reappeared, February 7, 1892, I saw in the dim twilight on the beach near our house a Raven lazily flopping along”
Other explorers have recorded ravens in winter on Baflin Island, Southampton Island, in Ungava and northern Labrador, and along the Arctic coast of Canada, where the few that remain must eke out a meagre living, with deep snows covering the ground and hiding all the familiar feeding places; then, driven desperate with the pangs of hunger, they risk their lives in attempts to steal the baits from fox traps, which often results fatally, as they are either killed outright or left to freeze under a pall of drifted snow.
CORVUS CORAX SINUATUS Wagler
The ravens of the Western United States have long been called by the above scientUic name and the rather inappropriate common name for a bird that is so decidedly western. George Willett (1941) has recently shown that we might well recognize two western races within the United States. The measurements that he has accumulated “appear to indicate a large race (principalis), with heavy bill and tarsus, in Alaska and British Columbia; another large race (sinuatus), with slender bill and tarsus, in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin region; and a small race (clarionensis) ranging from interior valleys of California to Clarion Island, Mexico”
The subject of this sketch might well have been called the western raven, as it occupies the western half of the United States and much of Central America. It is smaller than the northern raven, with a relatively smaller and narrower bill and a longer and slenderer tarsus. It is a wide-ranging species, with a scattered distribution, and seems to have no especially favored haunts. It is at home alike in the mountains and on the plains or deserts, in the forests or on the open ranges; it may be seen flying from its nest on some high cliff in a deep rocky canyon, or perched on same tall pine high up in the mountains.
M.. P. Skinner tells me that in Yellowstone National Park ravens are seen almost anywhere and at all seasons, perched on the ground or on some prominent rock, or about the geyser basins, and they are common in the lodgepole and fir forests from the lowest altitudes to the highest peaks. “In spring ravens are on the edge of the lake ice about to break up; they are rather frequent about the buffalo herds and often visit garbage dumps and old camp sites; they even visit occupied camps”
Mrs. Nice (1931) states that the raven was formerly an abundant resident in Oklahoma in the days of the buffalo, but that with the disappearance of the bison the ravens have gone. Many ravens were killed by eating poisoned baits and the viscera of wolves that had been poisoned. “Here seems to lie the explanation of the practically complete disappearance of this once abundant bird from Kansas and Oklahoma: the extermination of the buffalo on whose carcasses it fed, and the unintentional, yet wholesale, poisoning by cattlemen”
According to Dickey and van Rossem (1938) this raven is a “fairly common resident of the interior mountains and foothills” of El Salvador “from Los Esesmiles eastward. * * * The raven occurs principally in the pine regions of the Arid Upper Tropical Zone, hut in late fall and winter descends to the foothills. Extremes of altitude are 800 to 8,500 feet. * * * In the pines on Los Esesmiles ravens were decidedly more numerous than anywhere else in El Salvador and were seen almost daily. There were at least a dozen pairs within a radius of five miles from camp at 6,400 feet, and these were scattered at elevations of from 6,000 to 8,500 feet. Below 6,000 feet ravens were less numerous, but nevertheless were distributed generally all over the pine country down to about 3,000 feet”
Bendire (1895) says of the haunts of ravens: “It seems to make little difference to these birds how desolate the country which they inhabit may be, as long as it furnishes sufficient food to sustain life, and they are not hard to please in such matters. One is liable to meet with them singly or in pairs, and occasionally in considerable numbers, along the cliffs of the seashore, and on the adjacent islands of the Pacific coast, from Washington south to Lower California, as well as in the mountains and arid plains of the interior, even in the hottest and most barren wastes of the Colorado Desert, as the Death \Talley region, and through all the States and Territories west of the Rocky Mountains. * * * I have met with them at every Post at which I have been stationed in the West”
Courtship: With the springtime urge of love-making, the otherwise sedate and dignified ravens let themselves go and indulge in most interesting and thrilling flight maneuvers and vocal performances. Chasing each other about in rapid flight, they dive, tumble, twist, turn somersaults, roll over sidewise, or mount high in the air and soar in great circles on their broad, black wings. Their powers of flight shown in these playful antics are no less surprising than the variety of their melodious love notes, soft modulations of their well-known croaks, varied with many clucking and gurgling sounds. Their exuberant spirits seem to be overflowing at this season.
Other forms of playful springtime antics are described by Dawson (1923). One he called a “game of tag,” in which several birds took part, chasing each other about and playing with a “yellow something,” passing it from bill to claws, or from one bird to another. “After this I witnessed an aerial minuet by two gifted performers,: a tumbling contest, wherein touching hands (wing-tips), with one bird upside down, was varied with simultaneous somersaults and graceful upright, or stalling, presentations”
Nesting: I have seen a few nests of the American raven in Arizona and in California. At the northern end of the Huachuca Mountains, Ariz., on April 14, 1922, we saw a pair of ravens building their nest on a steep rocky declivity; they were flying about, carrying nesting material and croaking, but the nest was not finished. On April 20, my companion, Frank Willard, climbed to an almost inaccessible nest on a high perpendicular cliff in Apache Canyon in the Catalina Mountains; it was located on a ledge under an overhanging rock, but by the skillful manipulation of a long rope he managed to reach the nest and collect a set of five eggs. In a neighboring canyon, on the same day, we found a big nest in a large cottonwood tree that a pair of ravens were repairing; this was the only tree nest that we saw in Arizona. We saw some other old ravens’ nests on high, precipitous, rocky eminences, some of which were occupied by western red-tailed hawks.
In California, J. R. Pemberton gave me two very interesting days with the ravens, March 19 and 20, 1929, in Kern County, driving for many miles among the abandoned oil wells in the valley between the Kettleman Hills and Wheeler Ridge. We collected five sets of eggs, two of six, two of five, and one of four eggs. The ravens were nesting in the abandoned oil derricks, usually near the tops, at heights ranging from 58 to 104 feet above the ground. The nests were securely built on the framework, either in a corner or against the ladder, which made it a simple matter to climb to them. They were made mainly of the stems and branches of sagebrush, mixed with other sticks and rubbish, deeply hollowed and warmly lined with a profusion of wool of various colors, which, judging from the smell, must have been taken from dead sheep; this was mixed with such matter as cows’ hair, bits of hemp rope, and pieces of cloth. They varied in height from 18 to 24 inches; a typical nest measured 24 inches in outside diameter, 14 inches across the lining, and the inner cavity was 8 inches in diameter and 5 or 6 inches deep. The birds usually left the nests as we approached, but some remained on until we were part way tip the ladder. One bird did not fly until my head was nearly on a level with the nest. Some birds departed at once, but others flew around close by, croaking.
A few other nests were noted in various parts of California, mostly inaccessible, on -rocky cliffs or in potholes in sandstone cliffs. One that I saw when I was out with the Peyton brothers in Ventura County, on April 7, 1929, was in a pothole in a perpendicular sandstone cliff, about 50 feet high; the nest was about 30 feet from the bottom of the cliff and was reached with the aid of a rope ladder. The nest was made of sagebrush and other sticks and was lined with cows’ hair of various colors, bits of rag, and strips of yucca fiber. It contained five eggs.
I saw no tree nests in California, except one shown to me by Wright M. Pierce; this was in a Joshua tree on the \lohave Desert (p1. 36). And Major Bendire (1895) says that about Camp Harney, Greg., where ravens were very common, “out of some twenty nests examined only one was placed in a tree. It was in a good-sized dead willow, 20 feet from the ground, on an island in Sylvies River, Oregon, and easily reached; it contained five fresh eggs on April 13, 1875.” Dawson (1923) mentions a California nest in the top of a white oak, and remarks: “In an experience covering some scores of nests, this was the only example of a tree-nesting Raven. I am told, however, that they do nest in trees in Mendocino and Del Norte Counties, where they are also exceptionally common”
In central Lower California, according to Griffing Bancroft (1930), “they build in a normal manner on cliffs or more often in tree yucca or multifingered card6n.” And Dickey and van Rossem (1938) say, referring to El Salvador: “On February 8, 1927, a pair of ravens was found working on a nest in the topmost branches of a forty-foot pine at an elevetion of about 7,000 feet on Los Esesmiles. The tree was one of a group of half a dozen growing on a hare ridge and was directly above a trail over which a dozen or more people traveled daily. This nest could be seen half a mile away and would have been conspicuous even without the presence of the builders, both of which were constantly arriving and departing”
James B. Dixon (MS.) tells me that in San Diego County the ravens nest in trees nearly as much as on cliffs; out of the ten records of nests that he sent me, five of the nests were in trees. Ravens often build their nests on cliffs overhanging the seacoast. A. D. DuBois sends me the data on a nest in San Diego County that was 20 feet below the top of a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean; it was in a pothole, about 18 inches back and well protected from the weather; it was composed of sticks and lined with cow’s and skunk’s hair. W. E. Griffee (MS.) says that “occasional pairs of ravens nest in the western Oregon valleys and they occur more frequently along the coast, but the heavy timber west of the Cascade Mountains makes these occasional pairs decidedly inconspicuous.” Most of his experience with ravens has been east of the Cascades, where, he says, a large majority of them “nest in rimrocks, usually low rims not over 50 feet high.” But he has also found thei nests in boxelder, locust, juniper, poplar, and willow trees.
Old ravens’ nests are often used by hawks and owls. I took my first and only set of prairie-falcon eggs from the remains of an old raven’s nest, and I have found red-tailed hawks and horned owls appropriating ravens’ nests that were still in good condition. It is a common occurrence to find the ravens and falcons nesting in the same canyon, or on the same cliff, and not far apart; it seems to be a sort of tradition that where one is found the other will be found in the vicinity, but Mr. Griffee, who has had considerable experience with both, thinks that they nest together only where suitable sites are scarce; and he mentions two cases where ravens formerly nested close to falcons and are now nesting in trees at some distance. This community of interest is not due to any affection between the species, as is shown by the spirited encounters that sometimes occur between them.
Bowles and Decker (1930) give an interesting account of the nesting of this raven on, or in, man-made structures in a deserted agricultural community between the Yakima and Columbia Rivers in Washington:
In travelling over many miles of this country we have seen the following varieties of nesting Sites: Several different parts of windmills; rafters in small one-room shacks; in barns; in various places in houses; one a few feet up in a small tree; and one on top of a bookcase in a school house. * * S Only one nest was built on the outside of a house, this being placed on a porch directly above a small bay window. * * In the low, river country, where natural sites are scarce, we have found the nests on high tension poles, oil derricks, telegraph poles, and on the beam of a railroad bridge. One of the last mentioned was only twelve feet from the ground and two feet below the rails. [A freight train rumbling over this bridge did not cause the bird to leave its nest.]
Another interesting proof that these birds do not mind disturbance in and around the nest was where a windmill had been used as a site. For some strange reason the nest had been built around the plunging rod, which, the mill being in working order, went up and down through the outer wall of the nest whenever the wind happened to be blowing.
The material used is almost literally anything that strikes the fancy of the birds, although the common types are composed outwardly of coarse sticks and twigs for the most part. However, we have several times found them built almost altogether of different kinds of wire, while at other times the ribs of sheep and the smaller bones of cattle form a large percentage. One nest contained a large jawbone, with most of the teeth intact. * * *
“A curious feature of their nest building,” they say, “is that they never pick up a piece of material that has fallen from the nest, even though they may have to fly for miles to get more.” They cite a case where a pair of ravens had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to build a nest on an insecure board inside of a small building, but finally succeeded. “As a result the floor beneath the nest was one great mass of almost every imaginable sort of material that could be found for miles around, there being included dozens upon dozens of bones of many kinds. In all we estimated that there must have been between twelve and fifteen bushels of material, showing how pertinacious these birds are when they have decided upon a site for their nest”
The raven’s nest is often filthy and unsanitary; the wool and hair used for the lining are often taken from dead animals and so are highly offensive to the human nostrils; and Dawson (1923) says that “as if this were not enough, the sitting bird drenches the whole recklessly with its own excrement, making it a veritable abode of harpies.” And Bendire (1895) found that “when the nest was occupied the lining was always alive with fleas”
He says further: “The American Raven becomes attached to a site when once chosen, and although its eggs or young may be taken for successive seasons, it will return and use the same nest from year to year. I have taken three sets of eggs (evidently laid by the same bird) from the same nest for successive years; they were readily recognizable by their large size and style of markings.” Bowles and Decker (1930) say: “Should their first set of eggs be taken another is laid, usually in the same nest; and in some cases three sets have been laid in the same nest, with intervals of from seventeen to twenty-two days between sets. Sometimes the same number of eggs is produced in each set, but often the second and third sets will contain one egg less than the first. We have found that one egg is deposited daily until the set is complete.” Bendire (1895), on the contrary, says that the eggs are laid on alternate days, or even at longer intervals.
Eggs: The American raven lays from four to seven eggs to a set, but five and six are the commonest numbers, and as many as eight have been recorded. Mr. Griffee (MS.) says that larger sets are laid by northern birds than by those breeding farther south; he estimates that of all complete sets in northern Oregon 30 percent would have five eggs or less, 35 percent six eggs, 30 percent seven eggs, and 5 percent eight eggs.
The eggs vary in shape from ovate to elongate-ovate, or rarely cylindrical-ovate. They are merely large editions of crows’ eggs and not so much larger as one might expect; some of the smallest ravens eggs are not much larger than large crows’ eggs. The colors and markings of ravens’ eggs have nearly all the variation shown in crows eggs, though I have never seen the darkest types of crows’ eggs quite matched. The ground color varies from “glaucous,” through various shades of “greenish glaucous,” to c~pea green”; Bendire (1895) adds greenish olive and drab to the list of variations. The markings, in shades of dull, dark browns, drab and olive, show considerable variation in pattern; some eggs are sparingly marked with small spots, and some are profusely covered with small spots and fine dots; others are unevenly marked with irregular blotches and scrawls.
The measurements of 54 eggs in the United States National Museum average 49.53 by 32.76 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 60.5 by 37.6, 51.8 by 48.3, 40.9 by 31.6, and 48.3 by 30.5 millimeters.
Incubation: Major Bendire (1895) writes: “Only one brood is raised in a season. Incubation lasts about three weeks, commencing when the set is completed, and I believe both sexes assist in this labor. When the female is sitting on the nest the male may frequently be seen perched on some small bush or a dead branch of a tree on the opposite side of the canyon from where the nest is situated, uttering an occasional ‘klunkklunk’ and keeping a sharp lookout. Should anyone approach in that direction, though some distance off, he will warn his mate, uttering a low alarm note while flying past the nest, when she will usually slip off and try to keep out of sight, while he endeavors to draw attention to himself. acting at the same time as utterly unconcerned as if he had no interest whatever in that particular locality”
Young: The young are well cared for, fed, and guarded by both parents. When the birds are four weeks or a month old their wings are sufficiently developed for flight and they are ready to leave the nest. Attended by their parents for some time after that, they are taught to forage for themselves. Soon after they have learned how to hunt for their food they all disappear from the vicinity of their nesting site and resort to the valleys where food is more easily obtained. After a few weeks the family party breaks up, and the young, now able to shift for themselves, are deserted by their parents.
Plumages: The plumages and molts are the same as in the northern raven, to the account of which the reader is referred.
Food: Ravens are not at all particular about their choice of food; almost anything edible will do, from carrion to freshly killed small mammals and birds or birds’ eggs, other small vertebrates, insects, and other small forms of animal life; garbage and various forms of vegetable material are also welcome.
No thorough analysis of the year-round food of the raven seems to have been made, but A. L. Nelson (1934) has published a thorough study of the early summer food of this raven in southeastern Oregon, “based on examination of the stomach contents of 18 adult and 66 nestling birds, the latter representing 18 broods.” Bird remains occurred in 21 stomachs, the bulk percentage amounting to 6.37 for nestlings and 7.72 for adults. “Shell fragments of birds’ eggs were noted in 14 stomachs, forming by volume 2.03 percent of the bulk.” But this probably does not come anywhere near representing the number of eggs destroyed, for bits of shell are seldom eaten and egg contents are not easily detected. Small mammals formed the largest percentage of the food, 34.26 percent for adults and young combined. “Examination showed that thirty-five of the sixty-six nestlings, or 53 percent, were fed on rabbits, while eight of ïthe eighteen adults, or 44 percent, had fed on these animals.” These were mostly young rabbits, and probably some of them were carrion.
Amphibians formed 7.40 percent of the food of the young and 3.62 percent of the food of the adults. “The total percentage of reptile food for nestlings amounted to 6.43, for adults 0.84, and for all birds 5.23. * * * Insects, as a group, stand next in importance to the rabbit as a food item, amounting to about 33 percent of the total. The adults had a greater percentage of insects in their diet than did the nestlings, the percentage for the former being 48.56, and for the latter 29.74. * * * In the order of their importance in the diet, from the percentage standpoint, representatives of the following seven orders of insects were identified: Ilomoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Orthoptera, and Heteroptera. The orders Orthoptera and Heteroptera were so sparsely represented as to be insignificant, together amounting to less than ~ of 1 percent of the total diet.
“The only vegetable item taken by adults was corn. It was present in two stomachs, being recorded to the extent of 35 percent in one and 2 percent in the other. Of the nestlings, eight stomachs contained vegetable material, two stomachs containing corn to the extent of 42 and 33 percent, respectively, and three, containing oats in percentages of 62, 15, and 8, respectively.” Thus it appears that, although some of these stomachs contained rather high percentages of these grains, the number of birds involved was so small that “the determined vegetable material, corn and oats, amounted to” “only “2.35 percent of the total diet” of all the birds involved. And probably, at other seasons of the year, vegetable matter forms a larger proportion of the raven’s diet.
Mr. Skinner says in his notes from Yellowstone Park: “Ravens habitually feed on such carrion as dead elk, deer, and small animals; and I believe they follow bears and coyotes at times to benefit by anything they may find or kill. They frequent the garbage piles for scraps and they show little fear of the bears. I have seen a raven on marshy ground eating a frog; and I was once greatly surprised to see a raven on a tree limb reach up three inches and grab a fly that attempted to fly over”
Bendire (1895) writes: “Among various misdeeds it is ~charged with killing young lambs, chickens, and turkeys, as well as with destroying the eggs and young of different species of wild fowl; and while this is true to some extent, yet where these birds can get a reasonable amount of food from other sources they rarely disturb domestic animals of any sort. I have more than once seen a Raven feeding among my poultry, apparently on friendly terms with both young and old; they never molested any to my knowledge; nor have I ever heard complaints of shepherds that their lambs were troubled, much less killed, by them. Their food consists principally of carrion, dead fish, and frogs, varied with insects of different kinds, including grasshoppers and the large black crickets so abundant at some seasons in the West; they also eat worms, mussels, snails, small rodents, including some young rabbits, as well as refuse from the kitchen and slaughterhouse”
Charles A. Allen wrote to him, however, that “in the interior of California the Raven destroys many young chickens and turkeys around the ranches. In the spring months I have frequently seen one of these birds flying overhead with a young fowl or an egg in its bill.” The chances are that most of the damage complained of is done by comparatively few individuals and that the species as a whole probably does more good in the destruction of injurious rodents and insects than it does harm. Ravens must also be credited with their usefulness as scavengers.
Behavior: The flight of the raven is sometimes slow and measured, like that of the crow, with which it is often confused by casual ohservers, but it is more majestic, grander, stronger and swifter, varied with sailing or soaring in a manner that would rival a Butec, or with spectacular dives and plunges.
Mr. Skinner says in his notes: “I have seen them high above a snowy ridge, apparently ‘riding the gale’ seemingly for the mere pleasure of it.
They are given to circling in spirals above carrion quite after the manner of vultures. I have seen ravens fly by, croaking, and at occasional intervals turn back to make a circle before going on. One day I noted four ravens performing various evolutions in the wind, one had some prey that he would carry a distance in his claws and then transfer it to his bill for a short distance before changing back”
W. W. Rubey (1933) witnessed some remarkable flight behavior of ravens at the summit of Wyoming Peak (elevation 11,363 feet), Wyo., of which he writes:
Shortly after noon [October 5] we reached the summit. Immediately we were set upon by a flock of Ravens that dropped down upon us most unexpectedly. The birds, about thirty of them, rushed at us in long, nearly vertical dives, croaking, snarling, and almost barking out their harsh notes. So real did their “attack” appear that we threw rocks in an effort to drive them off. On the first dive, each bird veered off from us at distances of 25 to 100 feet, fell past the peak, then swerved back up and dived again. For a moment, retreat seemed not a bad idea; but soon the Ravens tired of their sport with us and took to another game in which they exhibited a type of bird-flight entirely new to me.
To the west, Wyoming Peak falls off rather abruptly 3500 feet to the valley of Greys River. The Ravens rose perhaps 500 feet above us, then plunged suddenly into a remarkable series of dives, spins, and coasts which eventually carried them almost out of sight to the forests far below. Their maneuver was carried out somewhat as follows: At the top of the preliminary climb each bird turned sharply straight down and fell a short distance with closed (or at least closely cupped) wings. Then, as the speed of fall increased, the wings seemed to open part way and the dive was deflected somewhat from the vertical. Promptly, the Raven began to spin or ‘barrel-roll’ about its longitudinal or bill-to-tail axis, slowly at first, then more and more rapidly. This rotating fall continued at an accelerating velocity through a vertical distance of several hundred feet. At length. perhaps because the speed could no longer be endured, the wings were opened wider, the angle of dive began to level off, and the axial spinning gradually slowed down until, when the coasting flight became horizontal, rotation ceased. Each bird immediately swerved hack up as far as its momentum would carry it and. from an elevation about 500 feet below that of the start, dived again. Thus, the entire performance was repeated over and over again, each successive dive leveling off farther and farther down the steep mountainside. ***
In the two hours that we remained on the peak, the Ravens were there no less than eight times. Each time, if I rementher correctly, they displayed their trick of spinning dives, and on four of their visits they made their mock attacks on us.
Three times, however, they found better game than men for their bullying. Once they put up a Golden Eagle from some ledge on the cirque wall north of the peak, and the majestic bird fled shamelessly and with all speed for a peak two miles to the east, with the whole pack in noisy pursuit. Soon they returned and quickly routed another Eagle from near the same ledge. This bird fared worse than the first one because he failed to get started far enough in advance of the Ravens. The entire flock surrounded and badgered him relentlessly for some time as he literally fought his way toward the Salt River Range, miles to the west.
Yet it was on the last one of their visits: while we were there: that the Ravens found their greatest sport. In the intervals between Raven raids, I had noticed that we were in the midst of a large but (at first) widely scattered flock of Leucostictes. These small birds were industriously feeding on the snow and among the rocks of the peak, and they seemed not at all disturbed by our presence. * * * Finally, the Ravens on one of their swooping raids somehow managed to frighten the Leucostictes into flight; and the entire flock of approximately 200 individuals took to the air almost simultaneously. Immediately, the Ravens were at them, dashing swiftly and noisily through the thickest of the compact flock, scattering it, then charging again each time that it reformed. Not content with merely this disruption of the flock, the Ravens began following up the separated groups of apparently panic-stricken Leucostictes, diving into them viciously. We saw no actual casualties but it seems probable that some of the Leucostictes, despite their expert dodging, must have been struck down during the repeated dives of the larger birds.
Mr. Skinner writes to me: “Frequently I find an eagle on the ground or feeding on carrion with a circle of ravens about him; they are there, I think, more for the sport of mobbing the eagle than anything else. When so tormented the larger bird seeks refuge in a tree top; we often flush an eagle and his attendant ravens from the thick top of a cedar. But, if the ravens mob the eagles, they have their own tormentors in the little Brewer’s blackbirds. I have seen a big raven fly past closely pursued by eight blackbirds, and he seemed unable to defend himself in the air or to escape from his more agile pursuers by flight, so he alighted in the top of a small pine, where by constant snapping and several fierce lunges at his tormentors, he managed to keep them at a distance. Soon he tried to escape by flight, but was forced back to his tree again. I have often noticed that, if a raven happens to pass within sight of a Brewer’s blackbird nest, all the blackbirds within sight and hearing take after him, and do it every time a raven passes. By late August and September the blackbirds give up this sport of mobbing ravens”
On the ground the raven is sedate and dignified, walking easily with a stately tread, when not hurried, or hopping less gracefully forward or a little sidewise. As a rule it is a very shy and wary bird, difficult to approach, but it is sagacious enough to know when and where it is safe and is often quite tame under such circumstances. Mr. Skinner tells me that he once rode his horse to within 15 feet of one on the ground, and then it merely hopped away. About ranches and farmyards, where it knows that it will not be molested, it is often quite tame, but in the wilderness it seems to know how far a gun will shoot.
Voice: The various notes of the western ravens do not seem to differ much from those of the eastern or northern birds, which are more fully treated under the northern raven. Major Bendire (1895) says:
“Their ordinary call note is a loud ‘craack-craak,’ varied sometimes by a deep, grunting ‘koerr-koerr,’ and again by a clucking, a sort of selfsatisfied sound, difficult to reproduce on paper; in fact, they utter a variety of notes when at ease and undisturbed, among others a metallicsounding ‘kiunk,’ which seems to cost them considerable effort.” Bowles and Decker (1930) mention a pair that “gave an endless variety of creaks and croaks, quacked very much like a Mallard duck, bawled like a cat, and, in short, made it exceedingly easy to believe that there would be little difficulty in teaching them to talk.” I have never heard western birds give the deep-toned, bell-like note that I have heard from birds on the coast of Maine, nor have I seen it mentioned in print, unless Bendire’s “metallic-sounding ‘kiunk'” or Dawson’s (1923) “curious, mellow, hunger-s ope” may refer to it.
Winter: Mrs. Bailey (1928) says that, in New Mexico, “in the fall the Ravens with their grown young ascend high into the mountains, even to the tops of the highest peaks,” 11,000 to 13,000 feet, but that “the snows of early fall drive the birds from these extreme altitudes. The winter is spent in the valley and foothills for the most part below 7,500 feet. * * * In the winter, Mr. Ligon has found the Ravens going about in pairs and he thinks that they remain mated. At this season they come into towns and are far less shy than during the early summer. At Albuquerque one was seen by Mr. Loring perched on a cow’s back, and at Deming they were found feeding in the streets acting as important scavengers, while a dozen seen in a hogyard, feeding with the hogs, allowed a person to pass within twenty feet of them without their flying away”
Fred Mallery Packard writes to me from Estes Park, Cob. “Small flocks of ravens may be seen almost daily in winter near Estes Park between 7,500 and 8,500 elevations, occasionally flying higher. After February fewer are to be seen, and these usually in pairs flying near the tops of the mountains above 10,000 feet. In September and October they are to be seen in small numbers flying over the alpine meadows and southward down the canyons at 12,000 feet or higher, descending to the lower valleys when the snows fall on the heights”
John E. Gushing, Jr. (1941), summarizes his report on the winter behavior of ravens by saying: “The ravens in the vicinity of Tomales Bay, Mann County, California, roost together in a brushy canyon on a small bill near Valley Ford, Sonoma County, during the fall and winter months. During the day the birds disperse over the surrounding country, some of them travelling at least forty miles a day. The colony numbered about 200 birds on the two times that counts were made. It has probably been in existence for at least nine years, quite possibly much longer”
Range: Circumpolar, North America, northern Central America, Europe and northern and central Asia; nonmigratory.
The American races of the raven are found north to northern Alaska (Cape Lisburne, Cape Beaufort, Meade River, and probably Demarcation Point); northwestern Mackenzie (Fort Anderson and Fort Pierce); northern Franklin (Winter Harbor, King Oscar Land, Cape Sabine, and Cape Lupton); and northern Greenland (Polaris Bay and Navy Cliff). East to eastern Greenland (Navy Cliff, Renet, Cape Wynn, and Ivigtut); Labrador (Port Manners and Gready Island); Newfoundland (Lewis Hills and Base Camp); Cape Breton Island (Englishtown); Nova Scotia (Wolfville, Halifax, and Grand Manan); formerly western New York (Canandaigua Lake and Ithaca); central Pennsylvania (State College and Chesteroak); West Virginia (Coppers Rock) ; southwestern Virginia (White Top Mountain); western North Carolina (Grandfather Mountain and formerly Craggy Mountain); formerly northwestern South Carolina (Caesars Head and Mount Pinnacle); northeastern Georgia (Brasstown Dome and formerly Toccoa); formerly central Texas (San Angelo); Veracruz (Jalapa); central Guatemala (Chanquejelve and Barrillos) ; northern Honduras (between Opotelma and Siguatepeque); and northwestern Nicaragua (San Rafael del Norte). South to northwestern Nicaragua (San Rafael del Norte); El Salvador (Volc~n de San Miguel and La Reina); southern Guatemala (VolcAn de Fuego and Quezaltenango); southern Oaxaca (Tapana); the Reviliagigedo Islands; and Clarion Island. West to Clarion Island; Baja California (Natividad Island, Cerros Island, Guadalupe Island, and Todos Santos Island); California (San Clemente Island, Anacapa Island, Farallon Islands, and Tuscan Buttes); western Oregon (Prospect and Cape Foulweather) ; western Washington (Grays Harbor and Bellinghani) ; western British Columbia (Friendly Cove, Nootka Sound, and the Queen Charlotte Islands); and Alaska (Forrester Island, Near Islands, St. Matthew Island, St. Lawrence Island, and Cape Lisburne). The raven is now uncommon or rare over most of its range in the United States.
The range as outlined is for the two races that are currently recognized as North American. The northern raven (Corvus corax pt-incipahs) is found across the northern part of the continent from Alaska to Greenland south to the northern United States and, in the Allegheny Mountains, to northern Georgia; the American raven (C. c. sinuatus) is found chiefly in the West, from southern British Columbia and North Dakota south to Nicaragua, formerly east to Missouri and Indiana.
Casual records: One was reported as seen at St. Georges, Bermuda, on December 23, 1918. There are also several records, chiefly for the Northeastern States, that appear to be outside the normal range. Among these are: New Hampshire, one was recorded from Sutton on December 20, 1878, and one was taken at Warner on February 18, 1879; Vermont, one was obtained at Bennington on November 7, 1909, and another at Hartland on November 19, 1912; Massachusetts, one was taken at Tyngsborough prior to 1859, one was taken in the fall of that year at Springfield, two were taken about the same time at Dedham, and one was taken at Northampton prior to 1901; Connecticut, one was taken on September 18, 1890 at South Manchester, and one was seen at Norwalk on May 25, 1919; eastern New York, one was taken in 1848 at what is now Brooklyn; New Jersey, one was reported from Morristown during the winter of 1881-82, and individuals were recorded as seen at Barnegat Inlet on April 13, 1924, and January 17, 1932, with several other observations between these dates; and Maryland, a specimen was collected at Sunnybrook on November 8, 1929.
Egg dates: Alaska: 3 records, April 26 to May 29.
Arctic Canada: 9 records, May 1 to June 16.
California: 96 records, March 2 to May 19; 48 records, April 1 to 16, indicating the height of the season.
Labrador: 8 records, April 1 5~ to May 12. Maine: 9 records, March 24 to April 29.
Nova Scotia: 27 records, March 23 to May 11; 13 records, April 3 to 13.
Pennsylvania: 24 records, March 3 to April 10; 12 records, March 13 to 20.
Washington: 65 records, March 6 to May 26; 33 records, April 1 to 23.
CORVUS CORAX CLARIONENSIS Rothschild and Hartert
As suggested by George Willett (1941), the A. 0. U. (1945) committee has decided to admit to our Check-list the “small race (clarionensis) ranging from interior valleys of California to Clarion Island, Mexico”
Mr. \XTillett’s study of this species indicates that there are three subspecies recognizable within the limits of the United States, as mentioned under the preceding form (sinuatus).
What information we have about the habits of the southwestern raven will be found under the preceding form, as that account was written before this subspecies was recognized.