Raven Art

Artists are drawn to creating art  featuring ravens, both paintings and sculpture. The painting was done in acrylics by the author and the sculpture is a clay piece by Joyce Kilibrew, noted sculptress and art instructor working in Sedona, AZ. The last piece is outdoor art featuring ravens in a Sedona roundabout. It’s about 6-8 feet tall.

3 Raven Fledgings

3 Raven Fledgings




Common Raven Featured on NPR’s Science Friday

If you’re looking for good (science) books to read this summer, here’s where to find a few, including my own The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird! I happened to be listening and called in and was lucky to be picked to go on the air (I think it helped that I live in Sedona).

This podcast can be found on iTunes, NPR Science Friday, Program for June 16, 2014–Your Summer Science Books.

Science Friday Audio Podcast

Ravens are not Picky Eaters–they even love Cheetos!

Ravens and their Crow cousins eat enthusiastically from all food groups. Since these brainy birds are omnivores, eating both animal and plant life, they are satisfied with standard bird fare like bird eggs, seeds, nuts, fruits, and (yuck) “road kill.” But over the co-evolution of both ravens and humans, ravens also have learned to feast on human food. They started following early human hunters to pick over scraps from their meals, but today’s raven is more likely to be dumpster diving for other kinds of leftovers discarded by humans at the local fast food restaurant–hamburger buns, meat, you name it. Ravens have learned that wherever humans are, there is food.  Dr. John  Marzluff from the University of Washington has been researching ravens and crows for many years and he believes that the willingness of these birds to broaden their food tastes, which is unusual in the animal world, has helped them survive successfully over the years. It’s hard to think we humans have contributed to the success of another species by encouraging them to eat our junk food, but in the author’s neighborhood one of the raven favorites is Cheetos!IMG_1629 IMG_1516 [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Kids Comments

I visited a second grade classroom to share raven stories and my books. Here are some comments from these great kids:

  • “I liked your book. When Shade was looking for water in the desert and to get Emily to help Shade was happy to save the man. It was a good book to read. It was a fun book to read.”
  • “I liked your book Shade because I learned a lot about ravens. I learned they fly fast and travel far. Thank you for reading us your book! I also enjoyed your book now I feel very happy.”
  • “I like Shade because she saved the man from the Sedona desert. I didn’t like that people get lost in the desert. I feel ravens are cool because they can fly to Walmart and find food. I like your book about ravens.”
  • “It was a great book. Emily and Shade were rescuing the man. I think the book was beautiful. I love the book because I learned about ravens and it is a beautiful book!”
  • “Shade was a good book because Shade helped that person who (was) lost in the desert. I really liked the book! It is that Emily put the GPS
    tracker on Shade. Now Shade is part of the rescue team! I learned a lot about ravens and I learned that ravens love Cheetos.”
  • Shade the Raven and Emily.

    Shade and Emily




Shade - A Story About A Very Smart Raven book cover

Shade – A Story About A Very Smart Raven


Common Raven Book Earns Accolades

The annual awards for Southwest Books of the Year for 2013 have been announced and my book was a “Panelist Pick” in the children’s titles. Pretty exciting stuff! Here’s what the judge said:

Un-Common Raven, The: One Smart Bird

By Diane Phelps Budden, Loren Haury. Red Rock Mountain Press LLC. 32 pp. $11.95.A well researched and well written children’s book about ravens.This book includes facts about where ravens live – the Sonoran desert, their flight patterns, intelligence, curiosity. We learn about raven’s characteristics including; they are toolmakers, scavengers, they mate for life,etc.

Written for school age children and includes index, glossary, and bibliography. Excellent choice for student research and grade school homework assignments.

–Ann Dickinson, 2013 Southwest Books of the Year jury

Follow this link to view all the books chosen for a Southwest Books of the Year 2013 award: http://www.library.pima.gov/books/swboy/2013/list.php?letter=U&view=kids






Shade the Raven Visits Highland Nature Center and Wows the Crowd

On Saturday January 11, Shade, Emily, and I visited the Highland Nature Center in Prescott, AZ to give presentations. I gave a story hour for the kids who came, but the crowd of over 125 raven lovers were there to see Shade and hear Emily’s talk about her research. There were plenty of questions too. Shade was very well behaved and people even had their picture taken with her. It’s good to see there are so many raven lovers in AZ (just like me).


Shade the Raven Visits Bird Store for Celebration of All Things Raven


A recent event at the local wild bird store in Sedona was a Celebration of All Things Raven, and raven lovers in the area came to meet Shade.  There were about 150 Shade fans in attendance, and Shade didn’t disappoint them. She was oh-so-raven! Emily Cory, owner and friend, spent a couple of hours answering questions about Shade and ravens in general. The crowd was entranced as Shade pulled a hair tie from Emily’s hair, and later tried to steal her pen, leaned over to coo and kiss with Emily, and ate a few grapes from a fan. It was a long afternoon for a very well-behaved raven, and we loved it. What a wonderful opportunity to interact with a wild bird.  Thanks Emily and Shade!IMG_0955IMG_0958

Raven Book wins New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

The Un-Common Raven–one smart bird has won an award as a finalist in the Juvenile Book (grade school to high school) category in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

The awards program was founded in 2007 as a way of recognizing the best books produced in New Mexico or written by New Mexico aut2013-NM-AZBookAwards-FINALIST-1hors. Arizona was added to the awards program in 2012. There were 46 categories with over 1800 entries. Winners in each category will be announced on November 15. The award program was organized by the New Mexico Book Co-op, a not-for-profit organization serving authors and publishers. It’s always an honor to be recognized by your peers.

Raven Vocalizations

IMG_1619If you haven’t visited the Cornell Ornithology Lab, you are missing out on learning information about birds from around the world. I used this site in gathering information about ravens in general and to listen to their vocalizations. Visit:


In the box,  Search recordings by species, enter “Common Raven” and you will be taken to a page with listings for raven calls from all over the world (or wherever ravens live).  The vocalizations include variations on the well-recognized, deep-sounding “quork,” as well as the many knocking sounds, screeches, etc.  Visit the “American Crow” section as well and you will learn to distinguish the vocalizations between these two bird cousins. Crow sounds are much higher in pitch because they do not have the large chest of the Common Raven.

Raven Story Contest–Two Winners!!

IMG_1639Because raven lovers have a favorite story or two about the birds in their backyard or town, I launched a Best Raven Story Ever Contest, winners to receive a free copy of The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird.  Two winners were chosen and here are their stories.

Raven Reunion–from Donna in Sedona:

“I’ve lived in a cul-de-sac in West Sedona for over ten years.  Across the street they have huge pine trees, which, of course, the ravens love.  There is a “couple” who love to sit on the very top branches.  One day I looked out my window and saw 40 or 50 ravens standing around, visiting, scattered through the entire cul-de-sac.  I was so surprised that I didn’t even think to grab a
camera…I wish I had.”

Diane-I think Donna was quite lucky to see such a large gathering of ravens–I call it raven “eye candy!” What we can’t know is why the group assembled there at that time since it wasn’t a food source. Ah, if only we could decipher those “quorks.”  But read on about another kind of raven gathering…

Another kind of raven gathering–from Tish in Flagstaff AZ

“One morning I was in my house in Flagstaff, AZ., when I heard ravens squawking very loudly out in the front.  I always go see what is going
on when the ravens squawk loudly because it will be something interesting.  One time I saw a coyote walking between my house and the house next door with a rock squirrel in his mouth.  But today I saw a lot of ravens in the pine trees of the neighbor’s yard across the street. When I looked on the ground, I saw a juvenile raven surrounded by adult ravens. The juvenile was lying on its face and the adults were nudging it with their beaks encouraging it to get up.  All the while many ravens in the trees above continued their very loud squawking! The juvenile tried to get up many times but could not raise its head.  I thought that perhaps it had flown into the tree trunk close to it. Finally, all the ravens left, except for a few who stayed to keep watch over the juvenile until it breathed no more.”

Diane–In his book, “Animal Dialogues: uncommon encounters in the wild,” Craig Childs describes just such an experience in the Utah canyon lands. He believed it was a raven wake for one of its own who had died. They seemed to be paying their respects much as humans do at the passing of one of their own. While it’s impossible to know this for certain, I like to think this behavior adds to the characterization of ravens as sociable beings, like humans, even if my thinking is anthropomorphic.

Congratulations to the winners, both who have earned a copy of my book “The Un-Common Raven.” Thanks for taking the time to enter.