Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Nobody likes Ravens

Well, I do. But now I can imagine how they must feel.

Today our resident Ash-throated Flycatchers were on the attack. A raven, maybe a young one, flew low through our backyard, and a flycatcher dive-bombed his back. 'Squack'! said the surprised raven, waking up our dogs who also love to hate his kind. And stormed after him.

Pursued on the ground and from the air, the poor raven took shelter in an ironwood tree. His landing was so clumsy that he tumbled for a minute from branch to branch before he found his footing. A White-winged Dove flew by minding her own business, but the flycatcher were so enraged that they even attacked her. But then the Black-capped Gnat-catchers betrayed the raven, he left his perch, the Ash-throats chased again, and the raven  flew towards quarry and the Kestrels' Saguaro.

Too close! male, and then even female Kestrel picked up the chase.  Poor raven fluttered on, swooping falcons  above and below. But they did not go as far from their nest as the Ash-throats did - or were there 2 pairs of Ash-throats involved? Anyway, the raven finally made it back to the Eucalyptus tree where his elders were sitting, watching the chase, never moving a wing. Did they let him learn a lesson?

On Memorial Day Weekend, I was in Prescott for an art festival on the courthouse lawn. Ravens always live on the courthouse - it's their rock cliff fort. Very early on Sunday, one young one, by her behavior a female, was sitting on the lowest branch of an Elm-tree, chatting and clucking. Those ravens are pretty used to people.

When I imitated her clucking, she took no offense, but started to inch closer on her branch in coy little steps, then spreading her wings a little and making little bows. Her head got big and round with all its feathers erect, the iris of her eyes widened, and her clucking became a flirty cooing. From above a big raven scolded, but he stayed on the roof, just peering over the eves. The young one shook her feathers, all sleek for a moment, and cawed back. But then she became sweet and flirty again, and we continued our conversation. Until suddenly something hit me on the back of my head. Not hard, but noticeable. Then my shoulder, with the swish of feathers. I was pretty shocked at first because I thought the big guy had come off the roof .... but no, he was still just watching. But close to me, a nasal 'daeh- daeh-daeh' came first from one tree trunk, then the other ...

Then my attacker came racing around the tree:   a Nuthatch! The small, white-breasted bird ran up and down and around the tree, flew at me, then the next tree, then came back for more. I certainly don't look like a raven, but I must have sounded like one, German accent or not. So now I know how those ravens must feel ....


  1. Hi Margarethe!
    Nice Story! Surely you remember that back here in Germany, the ravens' smaller cousins, the crows, can often be seen attacking the buzzards they seem to see as a threat to them.

    1. For American readers: buzzards in Germany are Buteo hawks, not vultures as the term is used here in the US. Yes, Michael, I remember that the Corvids can give as well as take in the mobbing arena! Nice to hear from you!

  2. In Yosemite Valley, Ravens mobbing always helped me find Owl, Hawk, Bobcat...here in my town, Southern California, it's the crows..,if I hear them in the morningm I hurry out to see...