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Friday, 7 July 2017


The raven is a large, all-black passerine (perching) bird. It is the most widely distributed of the crow family, or, more technically, corvids.

A raven By Andreas Trepte - own picture, Canada Stewart Crossing, Yukon,

The common raven (Corvus corax) is found across the Northern Hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all ravens.


The Raven has appeared in the mythology of many ancient peoples. It is often connected with death, which is why Edgar Alan Poe chose a raven for his poem.

In Irish myth, the raven’s book was a list of the dead or soon to die. To be in the raven’s book meant fated to die soon.

In French myth, ravens were seen as the souls of wicked priests. Wicked nuns’ souls became crows.

The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw.

Valkyrie speaks with a raven in a 19th-century illustration of the Old Norse poem Hrafnsm√°l

The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast worshiped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

A group of at least six to eight ravens with clipped wings are kept at the Tower of London in line with the myth that the kingdom will fall without them. These ravens are enlisted soldiers of the Kingdom, and have occasionally been dismissed for bad conduct.

While wild ravens live up to 21 years, Tower ravens can live past 40 years.

The person in charge of the ravens is called the Ravenmaster,


The raven is the first species of bird to be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and ravens are mentioned on numerous occasions thereafter. In the Book of Genesis, Noah released a raven from the ark after the great flood to test whether the waters have receded (Gen. 8:6-7)

A raven is also said to have protected Saint Benedict of Nursia by taking away a poisoned loaf of bread. It had been poisoned by the monks at Vicouano Monastery, who had rebelled against the strict regime Benedict had imposed on them. A raven that used to visit Benedict daily from the next wood, flew forward and tore the piece of bread away from the saint thus saving the life of his master.

Charles Dickens had a pet raven called Grip which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.

Uncle Billy's pet raven in It's A Wonderful Life was called Jimmy. The bird starred in over 1000 films over a 20 year period including being the crow that landed on the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Screenshot from It's a Wonderful Life showing Jimmy the raven


The raven is the largest bird of the crow family. This family is called Corvidae and an old word for a raven was corbie.

The largest raven species are the common raven and the thick-billed raven.

It averages 63 centimetres (25 inches) in length and 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) in weight,

The raven has a black and lustrous plumage. In sunlight, the plumage can display a blue or purple sheen which is a result of iridescence.

A raven's plumage By user:Clayoquot 

Apart from its greater size, the common raven differs from its cousins, the crows, by having a larger and heavier black beak, a wedge-shaped tail and shaggy feathers around the throat and above the beak,

The raven's feathers are all black, but a crow has feathers that are white at the bottom. These cannot be seen from a distance.


Young birds may travel in flocks but later mate for life with each pair defending a territory. When their offspring reach adolescence, they leave home and join a flock.

Two juveniles in Iceland Wikipedia

Ravens drop stones on predators that threaten their nests or young.

Common Ravens are extremely versatile in finding sources of nutrition. Their diet may vary widely with location, season and availability.

If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another.


Ravens are remarkably intelligent, pulling fishing lines from lakes to steal the fishermen's catch.

Ravens are clever mimics. They have been known to imitate foxes to attract them to dead animals that the raven isn’t capable of breaking open. When the fox is done eating, the raven can feat on the leftovers.

A Raven at Bryce Canyon National Park

Ravens are some of the only animals who have naturally-occurring gestures—they point with their beaks to indicate objects to other birds.


The collective noun for ravens is an unkindness.

Common Ravens can live up to 21 years in the wild, a lifespan exceeded among passerines by only a few Australasian species.

Jimmy the raven could open envelopes and ride a motorcycle. He appeared in around a thousand films (including It's a Wonderful Life), and earned a Red Cross gold medal.

Sources Daily Express, Mental Floss

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