As October 31st draws near, Hatch’s Halloween Countdown continues. We’ve told you about the bugs and bats you’ll encounter on a Grand Canyon river trip, but there’s still more to come! This week’s topic famously found literary acclaim in 1845, but has been featured in the myths and legends of cultures around the world since long before that.
These birds’ distinctive, croaking voices and dark feathers have been drawing the attention of storytellers since the beginning, with appearances in everything from Greek mythology and the Old Testament, all the way to today’s popular book and television series, Game of Thrones. Ravens have been creators, tricksters, bridges between the worlds of the living and the dead, omens of good luck and bad. Their diet of carrion (dead animal carcasses) lends them well to the creepiness we associate with Halloween. Of course, the popularity of Edgar Allen Poe’s "The Raven" didn’t hurt the image:
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
You’ll find the ravens on your trip have little interest in reminding you of lost lovers, though. Instead, they’re much more inclined to hover around your lunch stops and campsites, picking up your leftover bits of food from the sands.
Ravens are often mistaken for crows, another bird in the family, but can be distinguished from them by their size, their square (as opposed to fan-shaped) tails, and of course their "croak" (as opposed to a crow’s "caw").
A group of ravens is called an unkindness.
Ravens can live about 17 years in the wild.
Ravens can fly acrobatically much like hawks do, and they use those
skills for courtship during mating season.
Most of the year, ravens spend their time in couples or small groups,
but they will gather in flocks during the winter.
Hatch’s Halloween Countdown: Five Chills and Thrills on Grand Canyon River Trips (#3 Ravens) was last modified: October 26th, 2015 by