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


Raven Researchers Bernd Heinrich and John Marzluff

IMG_1618Perhaps the two most well respected raven researchers are Bernd Heinrich and John Marzluff. Heinrich is a biologist and professor at the University of Vermont,and has been studying ravens since the  1980s in the woods of Maine. He has documented his findings in two well known titles, Ravens in the Snow and Mind of
the Raven.

Wildlife biologist John Marzluff is a professor at the University of Washington.  Along with Heinrich, he set up a raven aviary in Maine in the area Heinrich had been working in.  The results of the study were published in Dog Days,Raven Nights, and document the impressive intelligence of these birds and the social behavior that has insured their evolutionary success.

Marzluff is best known for his study about crow fledglings that revealed their memory skills,an important attribute for problem solving in any species. Marzluff and his students attached GPS trackers to fledglings in a nest on campus in order to track their whereabouts after they left the nest. The mother and father crows were not happy about this invasion of their nest and cawed loudly at them, even flying at them. It became apparent that the crows were recognizing their faces. As Marzluff and his students walked around campus, the crow parents would dive down at them, cawing excitedly. Marzluff and the students couldn’t walk on campus without attracting these angry birds. However, once Marzluff and his students wore masks over their faces to hide their identity, the birds no longer bothered them.  Pretty smart birds!

When Marzluff’s book Dogs, Days, Raven Nights was published, he was interviewed by his publisher Yale University Press about his views on ravens since the time of his study many years ago in Maine.“ (Ravens have always been)…. intriguing and always interesting to me, but I saw them only as a wild animal that very occasionally interacted with humans.  Now (after my studies)  I see them as fully interactive with and influential on humans.   I now see ravens and people as completely intertwined; as we affect them so do they affect us.  We are in no insignificant part who we are because of our species’ co-evolution with the raven.”

Related Stories

Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems –

Raven Book

The Un-Common Raven Book Cover

The Un-Common Raven Book Cover

A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet researcher Emily Cory, and friend to Shade the raven. Because of my relationship with Emily, I wrote a children’s book, Shade; a story about a very smart raven, describing the work Emily has done in training Shade and documenting her intelligence.  I became Shade’s friend too, and highly value this opportunity to interact with wildlife. I realized I wanted to know more about these clever birds and share it with others.
The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird is a description of one species of raven, the Common Raven, and is based on the considerable research being done about these amazing birds, especially the groundbreaking studies of Bernd Heinrich and John Marzluff.
The book shows the home territories in North America where Common Ravens live, their physical characteristics, feeding habits, family life.  Do ravens really play with other ravens?  And just how smart are these birds?  I also discuss the special relationship that has developed over the years between humans and ravens.
Undoubtedly, the most exciting and enjoyable aspect of this book are the photos. They were taken by local Sedona, Arizona, resident Loren Haury.  Loren chose the photos from his extensive collection of raven photos, and they bring the text to life for readers.
As John Marzluff stated, “(The Un-Common Raven: one smart bird) is….An
engaging introduction to one of the world’s most fascinating and influential birds.”
I think you will be amazed as you learn about the Common Raven. My life has been enriched from my association with these wizards of the bird world.

They are truly uncommon.

Ravens and Crow–what’s the difference?

3 Raven Fledgings

3 Raven Fledglings

How can you tell a raven from a crow?
While crows and ravens share many physical characteristics, they also have obvious differences such as size and wingspan that allow us to tell them apart.

Raven VS Crow
Common Ravens Crows
Weigh 2-3 1 pound or less
Tails are long and wedge-shaped Tails are shorter and rounded
Wingspan is 4-5 feet Wingspan is 2-3 feet
Wings rustle in flight No wing sounds
Totally black mouth beak eyes feet Beaks are lighter colored
Shaggy hair on throat Smooth throat
Long thick beaks Shorter thinner beaks
Ravens soar in flight Crows flap their wings
Call is deep quork  quork Call is weaker caw caw

Watch a PBS nature episode on Crows
A Murder of Crows ~ Full Episode | Nature | PBS