Monday, November 3, 2014

Bird of the Day: Raven at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley

When the human species ceases to exist, I'm pretty sure the Ravens (Corvus corax) will take over the top spot in the world habitat pecking order. Sure, they've expanded their territory in the world by following humans, but when we go, they'll be smart enough to deal with it. I see ravens in some of the most inhospitable environments on planet Earth. In particular, they are one of the most visible birds at Death Valley National Park, the hottest and driest place in North America. They are also common in national parks across the west. The bird in today's picture was in Yosemite Valley at the Happy Isles Nature Center. I couldn't help but notice that it was hanging out next to the Hot Dog Stand.

They truly are smart. A friend of mine told me a story of a German tourist feeding some sparrows at an American Park (Yosemite, maybe?). She kept shooing off the Raven that wanted a share, so the Raven went a short distance away and waited. When the sparrow wasn't looking, the Raven swooped in...and grabbed the sparrow! The tourist was indignant...

Though mistaken for crows sometimes, the Ravens are distinctly different. They are much larger, and much less sociable, mostly hanging out in pairs. Their calls are much deeper. They range across much of the United States, in habitats ranging from alpine peaks to the hottest deserts. They are sometimes pests, but they are almost always fascinating to watch.

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