Common ravens are surely one of the most known birds in the world. They appear in many legends, fairy tales, novels and movies.
They have not a very good reputation and many people hate or fear them – even kill them on the first sight!
But ravens are one of the most intelligent animals in the world (together with dolphins and chimpanzees): they have great virtues and in their familiar life they do not differ so much from our family care.
Good things about common raven
Raven’s family life
They form pairs for life and stay together during the whole year. If it is possible, they always stay in the same territory. But… there are raven males that, time to time, visit their neighbour females in their nest when their male is away. 😉
In the late winter, they begin to court: aerial acrobatics, demonstrations of intelligence and ability to provide food are key behaviours of courting. It does not matter for how long the pair has been together, every year they demonstrate again its’ loved one that they made the right choice and that they are ready for the most important responsibility – to ensure the progeny.
Also, as far as it concerns the nest building, the pair builds it together. They have a complex method of construction: as a base, there are strong branches used together with stones and earth, then each time softer materials will be used, and the interior of the nest is lined with grass, and other soft fibres.
And now the most interesting facts about raven’s exceptional parental care!
Once the nest is ready, the fierce activity of the female slows down. Her movement are not agile anymore and she prefers to stay around the nest. For her mate begins a very important period as a food provider for his wife. He feeds her tenderly and abundantly. A female lays 4 – 6 eggs and incubates them during 20 days, approximately.
While the babies are hatching, the mother turns the eggs in right position, helps her chicks to the world, cleans carefully the wet nude babies and eats the eggshells and all the rests. No predator can detect that some small, ugly, defenceless raven-babies were born.
The raven babies are doubtlessly the ugliest beings created by nature. Huge stomach, long feeble throat, enormous beak, non-existing eyes – just two big dark stains over the beak – and all this covered with loose dark-pink skin – no feathers and no embellishment. But they are provided with the most important thing: the endless devotion and care of their parents.
Mother and father carefully take guard over the offspring’s well being:
- During cold days, the parents bring sheep wool to protect their nude babies.
- During warm days, the wool is removed; the mother flies to a source of water, takes a “bath” and, with her wet feathers, cools the babies’ temperature down.
- Both parents provide the young ones with water, which they bring in their large beak.
- During the first two weeks, the parents eat the excrements of their babies directly by excreting – as well as by the hatching – and no trail is left for depredators to detect the raven babies.
- Eggs and hatchlings can be preyed on by large birds of prey, martens and canids. The adults are often successful in defending their young from these predators, due to their large size and cunning. They have been observed dropping stones on potential predators that ventured too close to their nests – not only animals but on people as well.
The young fledge at 35 to 42 days, and are fed by both parents. They stay with their parents for another six months after fledging.
In the age from 6 months to three years they form large social groups of “teenagers” that can count up to 200 individuals. After this period they mate, separate from the group and stay with their partner for rest of their life.