RAVEN: Evermore Wild and Wonderful

Image resultIn the clean, well-appointed raptor center, home to birds of prey temporarily off-exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the newest resident took its first steps (hops and flaps, really) into its private apartment.

Sleek as satin, darker than deep space from beak to eye to claw, the raven never hesitated: two hops out of the large carrier which had been its transport, and up onto the head of its courier, the wife of the museum’s chief naturalist. (One could not help thinking of Poe’s ‘bust of Pallas.’) From there it accepted an offered wrist, raised high to support a full view of the room-sized, airy enclosure; its nonchalance like that of a potentate who knows all doors will open, and the path ahead will be strewn with jeweled rugs.

How I wanted it perched on my wrist – to have the privilege of acceptance by this wild, fierce and fearless being!

What is it that makes some of us yearn for and even seek after communion with the wild things of the world? And what makes some of us fear the wild to the point of desiring its extinction? Is it the ‘wild’ that remains in us, unconsciously needing release — or repression?

I think of these things as I spend long hours watching the animals in the Museum’s Perkins Wildlife Center – un-mindful of us and unselfconsciously just being who and what they are.


Fun Facts About Ravens.

  • They are among the smartest animals – as smart in their own way, as dolphins and chimpanzees.
  • They play.  Ravens make ‘toys’ – sticks, pine cones, found objects like golf balls – to play with one another , or just to amuse themselves.
  • They recognize specific people and other birds they like as well as those they don’t like and can remember them even after not seeing them for up to three years.
  • They often hide their food and, if another raven is watching, will pretend to hide it in one place then secretly hide it in another.
  • They are empathetic, often consoling one another over the loss of a mate.
  • They have been known to push rocks on people who were getting too close to their nests.
  • In Norse mythology, Odin had two ravens; Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), who he sent out each day to return and report to him of the doings of the world.
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