For the past week, I’ve had birds on the brain (dodging obvious “birdbrained” joke for the sake of my dignity).
The passive obsession didn’t come to me completely out of the blue like many of my short-lived crazes. No, this came to me when I had finally decided how I wanted the end of my novel series to play out. It involves ravens (I won’t say how), and it inspired me, encouraged me to research these beautiful, intelligent creatures at great length and depth. In just a week’s time, I’ve learned so much about them, and learned to love them even more than I always had.
I’ve always loved watching birds; was utterly fascinated by them since my youth. I spent a good amount of time as a kid finding photos of birds in our animal encyclopedias, one of my few childhood treasures, and drawing and sketching out artwork of them. I even went on to draw their skeletal structures in great detail. Dissecting owl pellets in fifth grade was one of the funnest experiences about that year of school, which I recall wanting to do outside of school. I was so amazed by the diet of owls that I read up on them for a while. Even to this day, I want to dissect an owl pellet again just to study them more, and that was almost twenty years ago.
Needless to say, I’ve always loved birds, but I’ve always loved them from afar. Then Jurassic Park came out when I was about nine, and my insane fascination for velociraptors reached critical heights. Dinosaurs in general became a huge hit with me, but it was the raptors I drooled the most over.
To call myself a bird enthusiast would be a bit dishonest, however. My attention to them lately was generated by a fixation on my own fictional characters. Or perhaps my characters allowed me to freely express a love for birds I’ve always had, but never was very familiar with. Either way, I’m hooked on them now– especially birds of the corvid family: crows and ravens.
Ravens are among the intelligent, if not the most intelligent birds. From what I’ve gathered, their intellect is on par with chimps and young children. Of course, we all know that ravens can mimic human speech, but that’s not the most amazing thing about them. Many animals can associate words with actions and objects. A dog recognizes “walk” for what it is after repitition. My cat Circuit, even after many months of not giving him canned food, will remember “Friskies” means “wet food” and will come running for it. It’s in his long-term memory. Ravens are no different in this aspect, however, they retain it in their memory in different ways. A raven detects inflection in human voices. They know when something is good based on the sound of your voice. They also know when something isn’t very exciting. They watch you, listen to you, and learn from you in ways dogs and cats can’t.
Ravens have, in what we might refer to as, a “sense of humor.” Of course, they don’t laugh at things like we do (at least not any kind we can hear?), but they do things for the sake of being entertained by it. They’re sort of like nature’s trolls. They will steal objects just to see what happens. They will watch other animals “bicker” with each other like we watch wrestling matches. They will perform aerial acrobatics, play with sticks, and even roll down snowbanks because it’s “fun” to them. I can’t read a raven’s mind, but I have a feeling that if I could, one would constantly be thinking: “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO THIS IS AWESOME”
Because ravens are so intelligent, it’s easy for them to develop tightly-woven kinships with humans. Not only do humans and ravens work really well together as a team, they bond with one another as family and friends. A raven in captivity can live up to fifty years. You could have a raven friend your entire life. Hell, he could even surpass you in years! This is especially true when they’re given a proper diet of calcium, protein and vitamins and given plenty of sunlight and exercise.
Since my discovery of such things, I’ve promised myself that I might one day take in a raven as a member of the family, but such thoughts are not to be acted on impulsively. Currently, we live in an apartment. I would at least need a house before bringing a raven into the home, and owning a house might take us a few years down the road. I still am also a bit undereducated on raven care, as well as training. This is something I plan to research for at least a couple of years before attempting it. The only way to purchase a pet raven is from a professional breeder, and they are not cheap. They can cost you at least two thousand dollars. It’s the same range of price as a used car. It is not a decision taken lightly.
However it ends up, it’s good to have a goal to work towards, other than being able to live off of my writing career and growing a garden and hunting deer. All in good time. All… in good time.
And no, I will not teach the raven to say “Nevermore” because I actually respect the damn thing.
More raven love!
Can’t get enough of these beautiful guys!