Ravens in Whitehorse

For a beginner birder like me, the ravens are a gift. Inky black and huge against the blue winter sky, they flap, float, and wheel above, then dip to land on a street light or tall pine. You can’t miss them. Their calls are the only sound in the silent subdivision. Croaking, barking, rasping, knocking, they echo across the crescents, bringing the quiet streets to life. It’s quite clear they are carrying on a complex life all around us, thriving in the northern winter.

Yesterday, there were a bunch looming over the Timmy’s drive-through in town. Do people throw bits of donut or cruller from the car windows? Probably not, as most of the residents don’t seem to pay them much attention. The ravens, on the other hand, seem to keep a sharp watch on all the goings on below. They peer down at you from 20 or 30 feet above, black eyeball checking you out as they fly over.

I came across a book where I’m staying which is titled “Bird Brains” by Candace Savage. She says members of the crow family are believed to be “uncommonly smart”. The avian intelligence quotient must be very high here. In addition to the ravens, I’ve also caught glimpses of black-billed magpies and grey jays in the woods.

Whitehorse bills itself as “the city in the wild”. And it is. Situated on the banks of the Yukon River there are mountains, forest trails, hidden kettle lakes and a basalt canyon mere minutes away by car and by foot. The ravens are out there too. But for me, the ravens in town have been a wonderful experience of “the wild in the city”.

Roberta Benson

Dawn Patrol: Painting by Heidi Hehens

Dawn Patrol: Painting by Heidi Hehn 2006

Thanks to Heidi Hehn for allowing us to post this photo.

You can see more of her art at:  http://wildartsweb.com/gallery2/main.php

 

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