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]

Raven is Largest Song Bird in the World

Raven Munching Walnuts

Raven Munching Walnuts

Ravens have a large range of vocalizations or calls; at least 30 different calls with many distinct variations have been documented. They are the largest songbirds in the world. Each bird uses different calls in length, strength, and pitch. Best known is the deep “quork, quork” call, with the males’ call stronger than the females. Ravens that are mates share calls in common to help identify their territory, and to keep track of each other when they are separated. They match their calls with postures and gestures to increase their meaning. The raven in the photo lives at the Grand Canyon and knows that if he “quorks” repeatedly the tourists will soon provide him with some of their food.
The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Macauley Library provides an opportunity to listen to 150,000 animal sounds on their website.  Among those available are the Common Raven, and you you can listen to them if you visit the website. You can also hear the  the “thrump, thrump” of wings beating as the ravens fly off.  Note that the calls vary depending on the location of the birds in the United States and Canada.  The commentary for each call explains the exact location and other helpful information.

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