Quoth the Raven

Last week we saw a raven fly across the road. That’s an increasingly unremarkable happening back in England, and perhaps here in the US too: I don’t know whether or not the American population is increasing. Certainly where we’re staying in Pennsylvania we’re not far from the Appalachian mountains, a stronghold for ravens outside of their more usual northern haunts.

John Tenniel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Speaking of corvids, I enjoyed watching a large party of American crows settling to roost in the city of Baltimore on Sunday (read about our charming trip to charm city over on Bookish Beck). Being the city Edgar Allen Poe was living and writing in when he wrote The Raven it should of course have been a raven roost, but it’s close enough. I’ve often seen lines of American crows heading toward roost at dusk but ever been close to the roost site itself. It was reminiscent of watching rooks come to roost, though if I may be biased for a moment I reckon rooks are generally more entertaining in both flight pattern and call.

One of the curious things about North American birdlife is the relative paucity of common corvids. On an average day’s birding in the UK one could expect to see 4 to 6 species without any trouble. Here I imagine 2 would be the norm – American crow and blue jay – unless you were in coastal regions (fish crows), the north or mountainous areas (raven) or those parts of the west that have Yellow-billed magpies. There are plenty of other bright, intelligent birds to see in the Americas but I miss the constant presence and chatter of rooks, magpies and jackdaws.


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