"Acrobatic Survivor"

Common Raven


        The Common Raven is the survivor bird of the North American wastelands.  Its range is from the heat of Northern Mexico to the frozen Arctic.  Winter explorers and travelers of the Arctic regions report seeing no life for weeks except for the Raven.  The Raven is also common in Eurasia and Africa.
        Ravens are a year-round resident in Southern Utah.  When most birds, including snowbirds, leave for cooler climates, the Raven stays to raise its young in our hot surroundings.
        These large black birds are generally seen singularly or in pairs in the spring and summer when they are mating and raising their young.  They lay three to eight blue to greenish eggs in nests on cliffs or on power poles, generally far away from people.
        In winter there are crows in our area, but for the rest of the year look for the distinctive wedge-shaped tail to identify it as a Raven.  Crows are a fourth smaller and have a flat tail.
        Ravens are superb fliers.  Their aerial displays, when courting in spring, are a rare treat.  They soar, dive and even tumble through the sky.  Their aerobatics are again seen in the fall and winter as family groups ride the early storms, frolicking on the blustery winds in the mountains around Southern Utah.  During deer hunting season, one observer has spent many cold hours watching Ravens play on the mountain winds.
        Ravens conserve energy when flying most of the year by soaring as much as possible.  But, when needed, their large wings can give them rapid flight.
        The Raven is regularly seen feeding on rabbits and squirrels killed on the road.  They are often seen working farm and ranch fields looking for insects.  Another favorite food is young Desert Tortoise.  The Raven's nest sites commonly contain empty tortoise shells.  Raven numbers have increased due to the expansion of humans into the desert with accompanying landfills, road kills, and fast-food garbage. Enjoy these aerial acrobats of our sky who thrive in our area. 
        Keith Davis is the artist for this week's Common Raven.  Thanks, Keith, for sharing your talent with us. If you see something unusual, or just want to talk about birds, call Marilyn Davis/Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996.

Past Articles:

"Cold Days and Good Memories"  (White Pelican) 
"Where's Sherlock Holmes When You Need Him?" (YB Cuckoo)
"Tale of Four Birders"  (Western Scrub Jay)
"East Zion Continued" (Golden-crowned Kinglet),
  Vermilion Flycatcher
"Aerial Wolves" (Sharp-shinned Hawk)
"From Clown School to Pond" (Ruddy Duck)
"Shades of Red" (Red-tailed Hawk).
"Predatory Songbird" (Northern Shrike)
"The Cagey Killdeer"
"A True Bird Story" (Willet)
"A Song to Remember" (Hermit Thrush)
"To Catch a Fish..." (Green Heron aka Green-backed Heron)
"No Spring Cleaning" (Brown-headed Cowbird)
"Look-alikes Galore" (Sage Sparrow)

"A Jazzy Singer" (Cassin's Finch)
"Salute the Coot" (American Coot)
"Put a Smile on Your Face" (Greater Roadrunner)
"The Tale of Fred and Ethel" (Mallard)
"A Flutter of Sparrows" (Clay-colored Sparrow)
"A Sight to Remember" (Blue-gray gnatcatcher)
"About Night Life" (Northern Saw-whet Owl)
"Black and White and Smart All Over" (BB Magpie)
"Dressed for Dinner... of Fine Wines and Bugs" (RN Sapsucker)
"A Life List" (Painted Redstart)
"Bird-Brained" (Flammulated Owl)
"Needle in a Haystack" (White-throated Sparrow)
"Booby Trap Nest" (Red-breasted Nuthatch)
"The Crowd Pleaser" (Western Tanager)
"Seeds and Civilization" (American Tree Sparrow)
"A Childhood Treasure" (Black-headed Grosbeak)
"Those Itchy Red Bumps" (Cliff Swallow)

"Is There a Bee in Your Bonnet" (Utah bees)
"Where's My Winter Coat" (Great-tailed Grackle)
"Ice Age Tree Planter" (Blue Jay)
"An Uncommon Beauty" (Black-and-white Warbler)
"What's In a Name" (American Redstart)
"When the Cold Winds Blow" (Western Grebe)
"A National Beauty" (Bald Eagle)
"Feathered Tiger" (Cooper's Hawk)
"The Accomplished Carpenter" (Acorn Woodpecker)
"Jewels" (Evening Grosbeak)
"Observations on the Road" Rock Pigeon
"A Leftover Memory" California Gull
"Lifelong Dreams" Greater Roadrunner
"Who's in Your Yard"  House Wren
"A Touch of Blue" Mountain Bluebirds
"Fur and Feathers" Spotted Owl
"Chick-a-dee-dee-dee" Mountain Chickadee
"In Search of" Red-breasted Nuthatch
"Wanderlust" Canada Goose
"Einstein Birds" American Crow
"What Spring Brings" American Wigeon
"Magnificent and Adaptable" Golden Eagle
"The Lonliest Sound" Common Loon
"When a Rare One Shows" Thayer's Gull
"Bird of the Ocean Shores" Brown Pelican
"A Mature Forest" Northern Goshawk
"When Black Eyes are Cool" Short-eared Owl
"Spring Is Busting Out All Over" American Robin

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