Common ravens (Corvus corax) are noted for their intelligence, adaptability and mischievous natures. They rank among chimpanzees, dolphins and human 4-year olds in problem solving. Ravens will taunt and mock other creatures. They also make “toys” to play alone or with other ravens. In addition, they also mimic the sounds of humans and other animals as well as inanimate objects such as cars, bells and slamming doors.
My daughter, who lives in Japan, tells of a raven that sits on a perch near their house. The raven will bark like a dog, which causes all the dogs in the neighborhood to begin barking. The raven sits and listens. When the dogs settle down and it once more become quiet, the raven “barks” again and initiates another cycle of dog barking. She has watched this cycle repeat for over a half hour before the raven tires and flies to engage in other mischief.
Leonard and I once watched a raven with a large (for a raven) piece of metal sitting on a utility pole. The raven would drop the metal onto the street causing a loud clatter, fly down and retrieve the metal and again drop it from the top of the pole – over and over for a long period of time. The raven invented his own toy.
There is a raven that is often around our house. We can tell it is the same bird because its call is distinctive from the other ravens. This raven sounds as though it has a cold or a frog in its throat. When we go outside, this raven caws at us and follow us around the yard as we go about our normal routines. The raven moves from perch to perch, always staying nearby and constantly cawing. We will stand in one position to see if the raven will approach us, but it never does. It simply follows us making its strange call. Wish we knew why.
Leonard and I enjoy these fascinating birds.
One raven was photographed at McClures Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore. It was scavenging a dead shorebird. The other raven was near El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.