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Back of Card DESCRIPTION
Raven (Corvus corax)
Many legends surround the mystical Raven. One story is that Raven was once a bright bird of rainbow colors. Raven soared through canyons and sage-covered plateaus, but grew bored and flew to talk to Grandfather Sun. Not understanding the intense power and heat of the Sun, Raven caught fire and fell towards the ground. As his feathers burned he used his large heavy bill to rub out the fire, but became black like charcoal. Now Raven is humbled, but delights in how the sun still shimmers on his glossy feathers, casting iridescent hues.
With a wingspan of over four feet, Ravens are the largest North American perching bird. They belong to the family Corvidae, which includes crows, jays and magpies—all known for their intelligence, interesting social behavior and raucous personalities. Ravens’ large size, wedge-shaped tail and thick ruff of feathers on their throat distinguish them from the crow. Also, their call is more of a low croak than a crow’s caw. Hence the Raven’s scientific name, Corvus corax, from the Greek korax, meaning “croaker.” They possess a large repertoire of sounds, and because of their ability to mimic human speech Ravens have been considered messengers and prophets. A visit from a Raven meant an acquaintance with the supernatural.
Ravens are omnivorous, eating carrion, small mammals, eggs and nestlings of other birds. They soar on long, pointed wings and may travel long distances to find carrion. In the North, Ravens lead wolves to carcasses where the wolves leave enough scraps for the birds to feed. Thought to mate for life, pairs engage in spectacular aerial acrobatics and build a large bowl of sticks on cliff sides, trees and telephone poles. They spend long hours mobbing predators with belligerent calls.
Found in a variety of habitats, including mountains, deserts and coastal areas, Raven soars as a master of light, understanding heat and fire as each day on Planet Earth comes to an end. As warm air lifts Raven to high places on rock shelves to survey the changing colors of each sunset, magic drums up through Raven’s strong legs guided by the mystical experience of flying close to Grandfather Sun.
artwork by Linda Matusich © 2009
text by Kara Jean Hagedorn