Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is it really like a writing desk at all?

I'm not sure just how much stock can be put in this website, but it seemed a good, reasonable answer. I like the response "they both have inky quills" best.

"Raven" by John James Audubon. Have you
seen his illustrations? Gorgeous. Definitely encouraging
my creeping birder tendency. Found HERE.

*      *     *

From wikipedia. Please click to enlarge. It's worth it.

I'm thinking about ravens. Or rather, of one raven in particular.

A few years ago I went camping somewhere north of Montreal with my love and we met a raven. I know I'd seen them before (I am from British Columbia after all, where they grow on trees) (ha) and had certainly heard them before, on walks in the woods, but this was a very up-close encounter.

Did you know that ravens are the size of turkeys? I wonder if the raven has swollen in my rememberings. Maybe it was the size of a very large chicken? No, I'm sure it was bigger than that.

He was so brazen, so cheeky. He almost seemed able to grin. Or wink. Or both.

(I only assume it was a he... could just as easily have been a she)

It was morning, and we'd just come out of our tent. The forest was mostly still, although you could hear the mist-muted sounds of other campers making breakfast, off in the distance. We heard a percussive noise in the trees above our site and looked up, all groggy and bed-headed, to see a feathery black giant. His head was twisted to the side, the better to see us. 

He hopped down to ground level, having decided that we were about as threatning as kittens, and strutted around for a while. We were totally enchanted. 

The campers next to us were either not up yet, or had already left to do some early morning activity, so our raven friend wandered around their site looking for snacks. Or trouble. Or both. 

He poked around a woodpile ("Look how BIG he is!" we exclaimed, "He must be as big as a turkey!"). He snooped in their stove ("Look how CLEVER he is!"). He scratched in the rubble under their picnic table ("Look how BEAUTIFUL he is!"). He clicked his beak and made throaty noises ("Listen to how WONDERFUL he sounds!"). He catalogued their garbage and found little of interest ("See how endearingly CHOOSY he is!"). He moved here and there, sometimes quite near to us ("See how his black feathers gleam PURPLE and BLUE!").

I remember being struck, not just by his size, but also by his shape. I sort of had in mind the image of ravens as big crows. But they aren't at all. Crows are much sleeker birds. Ravens have heft, and also shaggy throat feathers. They both have crafty, intelligent eyes.

We were crushed when he moved on, about twenty minutes later, to cause trouble elsewhere. How wrong would it be, really, to have a raven for a pet?

This stunning photo was found, through a google hunt, at this curious spot.
As far as I can see, no credit is given to the photographer.
It appears to be a book proposal by one Boria Sax. I don't know if it ever got published.
Boria Sax is a delightful name, don't you think?
Now I want to read The Mythical Zoo.
Dear Mr. Boria Sax, you seem so interesting (and are possibly a fanatstic raven photographer),will you be my friend?


  1. Wow, that Wikipedia pic of the Raven is spectacular! Loved your story too. I totally believe that they can get as big as a turkey (or close to that big), the Ravens up North and in the interior of BC are smaller though. But still impressive. And sooo smart. And sooo cheeky. When we go up to the north coast of Vancouver Island in the summer, they circle around our remote campsite and call to each other, I always imagine they're keeping tabs on us.
    "Two humans over here!"
    "Got it, three of them over here! And a dog!"
    "Ok. Talk to you in 10 minutes."


  2. I can imagine raven conversations like that : )

    "They got anything good?"

    "Hmmm not really... it's all tofu and vegetables."


    "Oh! No, wait, I see hot dogs!"