The Joy of Finding a Raven's Nest: Part Two
The Common Raven can inspire uncommon joy simply by being itself, soaring across the sky, performing amazing aerial feats with ease and grace, or perching at length upon a tree top or a craggy rock formation.
Corvus corax, is the Latin name, and the bird to which it refers comes with centuries of folklore, myth and various uses of its name. Sent forth by Noah from the Ark, prior to his sending the Dove, and called upon to feed the prophet Elijah, this large bird is mentioned several times in Scripture. “The Raven,” is arguably Edgar Allan Poe’s most well-known and oft quoted poem; the scientific name was borrowed in 1989 for a Band from Germany known for its Neo-Medieval music; and the Baltimore Ravens won the 2012 Super Bowl.
When I think of the Common Raven, I recall the pair who greeted me when I walked this previously uninhabited property for the first time. They accompanied me on my hike and I asked their permission to acquire this rugged, mesa-top land. Today, I provide them with fresh water from our well, and put out seed as a thank offering for their presence and the joy they bring right outside our window.
In early May I noticed another Raven pair soaring in the sky, and then saw their nest built into a neighboring cliff. Since that first sighting of two tiny babies snuggled within the sheltering bowl of loosely woven branches, I have witnessed one of the two in flight for the first time in mid-June. Between May 7th and June 10th, I have visited and photographed the babies and their parents several times, marveling at their progress.
Because I never want to be intrusive or cause concern, I keep a distance which thankfully has ensured that whenever Mama or Papa fly by they don’t scold me, swoop too near or dive. They do speak to me in answer to my calls to them.
As the babies began to find and exercise their voices, they too began to answer my calls. That dialogue has been one of the most thrilling experiences for me.
On my last visit, I looked and looked and didn’t see them anywhere. Neither parent was atop the ridgeline keeping watch. Perhaps they were away gathering food. But the nest was empty and even the babies were nowhere in sight.
So I called to them. And they answered. Noting the direction of their young voices on the wind I ascertained their general direction and began hiking. I called again. They answered. This went on until I came to a grove of trees, looked down into the canyon and saw the two youngsters amid some big branches. Delighted, we visited; then the one I have suspected is a bit more developed, lifted off and glided slowly past me. So taken with watching this wonderful feat, I almost forgot to capture the happy sight. I closed my mouth, lifted my camera and took a shot as those glossy new wings carried that beautiful young Raven around the towering red rock formation. The other stayed in the tree, energetically inquiring about whether or not I had brought a picnic. I wondered then if that young one knew it was customary for me to bring a container of wild bird and black-oiled sunflower seeds for Mama whenever I visited, to eat and provide to the babies at her discretion.
Safe in the tree, the wondrously growing and developing fledgling raised his wings and showed off his perfect, blue-black feathers; offered a short speech; and filled my heart to overflowing.
Yes, they are growing and developing magnificently. According to The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, the Corvid legs and feet are sturdy, strong and they have grasping toes. The tarsus are smooth in the back and yet scaled in the front. I could see this clearly and the youngster was holding firmly onto the big branch.
In the midst of doing what they are designed, destined and driven to do, these Common Ravens are couriers of healing energy and bring the magic of uncommon joy to this grateful visitor.
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