2010-11-20 22:39:36.000 – Stacey Kawecki, Observer and Meteorologist
As one of the educational observers, I feel I haven’t provided enough education lately. Since the fog has allowed little in the way of optical phenomena, and Mike and Ryan have spoken about the weather (big surprise), I decided to turn my attention one of the species we encounter often on the summit of Mount Washington. During on of my distance learning presentations, a student asked me what a raven was.
I was somewhat flabbergasted. I had seen ravens on many occasions; I know how the soar, glide, and swoop, but the best I could tell them was ‘ravens are like really big crows.’ Turns out, that is a fairly accurate description of a raven.
Ravens, like in Poe’s ‘The Raven’ are scientifically named Corvus corax, more readily known as the common raven. They are the largest species in the crow family, averaging 24 inches tall, with a wing span of 46-56 inches! In addition to being the size of a small child, ravens are among the smartest birds, exhibiting profound problem solving skills. They are known as the tricksters of the sky and can imitate other bird calls. One raven that was raised in captivity was trained to mimic the word ‘nevermore.’ They are one of the most wide-spread species, ranging across western and northern North America, with some representation in the Appalachians. They will eat anything from small rodents and nestling Great Blue Herons to pet food and dog poop.
With their playful nature and skill in the sky, ravens are always intriguing to watch especially from the summit of Mount Washington. They ride the wind, something I think we all wish we could do.
Stacey Kawecki, Observer and Meteorologist