Monday, January 8, 2018

Ravens in New Jersey

Statue of a raven on the grounds of the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA
by Midnightdreary via Wikimedia Commons

Ravens are birds that have been a part of many mythologies. They were companions to the Norse god Odin. Native Americans thought of them as tricksters. And almost everyone knows that "Nevermore" raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem by that name.

But the real life raven is one of several larger-bodied species of the genus Corvus. There is no consistent distinction between "crows" and "ravens", and these names have been assigned to different species chiefly on the basis of their size. Crows are generally considered smaller than ravens, and the largest raven species are the common raven and the thick-billed raven.

The common raven, Corvus corax, has the widest distribution of any of the Corvidae family that includes crows, jays, nutcrackers, magpies and related birds such as rooks, jackdaws, and choughs. It is also the largest and heaviest of the passerines, or perching birds. And you may have heard that it is also one of the smartest birds.

Have you seen ravens in New Jersey?  They were once numerous in our state. They disappeared as a nesting bird in New Jersey in the 1920s. But in the early 1990s they began to breed once more in NJ and their numbers have been increasing ever since.

If you are curious about our Jersey ravens, the Wednesday, January 10 meeting of the Montclair Bird Club will feature “Return of the Raven,” presented by writer and environmental consultant Rick Radis. He will cover the historic status of the common raven in eastern North America, its return and its present status. Rick Radis is a past editor of NJ Birds, NJ Audubon Magazine and other conservation publications. His writing, editorial and photography have appeared in the New York Times, TNY, and many other national and regional publications.

The club's meeting on Jan. 10 begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Union Congregational Church in Montclair. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Common raven
By Stephencdickson - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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