The Raven's Nest

No Such Thing as a Common Raven


I refer to one section of my blog as The Raven’s Nest. Why? Because it is a collection of things I like, similar to a raven’s collection of shiny objects with which to line its nest.

Actually, while that is an endearing thought, it is a misconception. Ravens do not hoard shiny objects.

Regardless, I like the notion because I do hoard shiny objects–and dogs and seashells and books–to line my nest. 

Let me take this opportunity to share with you some truths about my spirit animal, the raven…

In the ornithological world, the raven is referred to as Corvus corax, or the Common Raven. To this I take exception, for there is nothing common about these birds. They are anything but common. And it has thereby become my mission to prove otherwise.

Ravens are smart, curious, and full of mischief. They are playful acrobats who slide down snowy rooftops and tease foxes. They make their own toys.

Not just clever, but also self-assured. describes them as “having a confident walk”–I think the author uses the term swagger. And how striking their iridescent plumage is!

It’s probably evident that while writing this post I fell into a weekend-long wormhole of raven research. I.could.not.stop.reading.about.them.

Zoologist Bernd Heinrich wrote in his 1999 Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds that like bees, ants, and human beings, ravens also have the capacity to communicate about things or events.

Award winning natural history author Candace Savage contends they, “make complex decisions and show every sign of enjoying a rich awareness.” Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays (1995).

But wait…there’s more.

John Marzluff in In the Company of Crows and Ravens (2005) reveals that they hide food, and sometimes they pretend to hide food to merely to deceive looters.

Still not convinced?

They even have face-recognition software installed in their big bird brains. (Or something similar, at least.)

Crazy sounding, I know! But I am not making this stuff up. Trust me. I’ve done my homework.  

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe the Yeoman Ravenmaster of the Tower of London. Ravens hold a prestigious (if not amusing) role at the Tower. Here is a brief history and the story of an unruly raven named George.

Edgar Allan Poe knew they weren’t common, evident in his choice of the clever raven as the focus of his poem.

Even their eggs are spectacles.

Common Raven, my foot! I rest my case.

Surely by now you can see why Common Raven is a misnomer.

If you are done with this ballyhoo, or you are not convinced that ravens are a marvel to behold, please move along. If you’re still here, please let me know what YOUR spirit animal is. 




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