RE: [Mendobirds] strange ravens
- Hi Jessica,
I would guess that they see their reflection in the window and are being
Sounds like a cool thing, if they don't break the window!
Ron LeValley, Senior Biologist
Mad River Biologists
1497 Central Avenue
McKinleyville, CA 95519
From: Jessica Morton [mailto:jessica@...]
Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 10:11 PM
Subject: [Mendobirds] strange ravens
>We've been wondering for months now if anyone might be able to
>explain our raven visitors' behaviors: We have a 2-level bedroom
>roof with a a narrow strip of windows running along the edge above
>roof line. When the sun hits it (about 9 a.m. lately), we hear a
>very unusual nasal "whonk" sound along with dove-like cooing. It's
>I assume females (based on their wooden "tock" vocalizations at othertimes).
>The bizarre part is that they peck extremely hard on the windows, andWisdom begins in wonder.
>have left them completely beak-streaked from so many flailings at the
>glass. Anyone have an idea what might be causing this behavior?
>Sometimes it's one raven, other times two, never more (sorry!).
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- Hi, Jessica,
I think Ron LeValley hit the nail on the head with regards to the
territoriality of their behavior. When ravens are beginning their
pair-bonding, several females will choose from the group of males, and
the strongest, most aggressive birds are usually the ones that pair up.
This is referrering to the first time, since it is known that ravens
will mate for life and are usually extremely territorial in that they
chase out interlopers from their breeding territory. The mated pairs
that have a nest will protect their nest sitte and surrounding area
starting in late December / early January. You may have noticed groups
of four or more ravens flying cosely together, heads down in a
fluffy-head display, females "clokking", males calling. That would be a
group that is attempting pairing. At other times you may see a pair
aggressively and very actively chasing off another pair or even four or
more ravens. That would be a mated pair being territorial.
Since there was, from your description, a group of them, I would assume
that there's at least one female in that group that doesn't enjoy the
competetition she's getting from the others. Males in particular, will
hammer on a tree branch when agitated by the sight of a predator or
other threat to the nest area and call incessantly, even at times
swooping down or over the perceived interloper, but females will chase
away their rivals. So, they're seeing themselves in the glass and
assuming they are other females that are acting rather strangely -
especially considering that the reflection is doing exactly the same
thing as she is, without regard for "personal space," as it were. If you
watch them on the rooftops, the moment a competing bird gets "too close"
to a female in display, that female will peck at her repeatedly.
Hope that's helped some? I've been watching ravens for a lot of years
and reading up on their behavior - I especially enjoyed Bernd Heinrich's
works on the Northern Ravens (Corvus corax principalis) of Maine and
Vermont. Some of that behavior can be translated into our mixed group of
Northern and Western Ravens, (Corvus corax sinuatus) I am sure.
Have a great day,