Theropod Thursday 25: Nevermore!

Wild ravens! In Berlin!

Makes me very glad 🙂

I took this photo in the Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, but the bird is not a zoo animal. A lucky shot at the Bharal (Pseudois nayaur) enclosure. I was still a good distance away when I noticed a corvid strutting around a corner of the enclosure, and immediately though “that’s one big rook/crow…..” (both ook and Hooded Crow are called “Krähe” in German, ). Then I realized that the bird was all black, like a Rook (Corvus frugilegus), not half grey as the typical crows in Berlin, Hooded crows (Corvus cornix) are. And while Rooks can occasionally be found in Berlin, they are very rare. Combine the all-black colour with the size and I knew I was watching a Common  raven (Corvus corax)!

Ravens have become very rare in Germany, and I read a few years ago that they populations did not grow as had been hoped (and as is seen in other top-of-the-foodchain birds) with the ban of DDT. It was found that apparently, raven practice active population control, i.e., lay fewer eggs if conditions are not good and they feel cramped, so that one “wrong” factor can be enough to stop population growth entirely, where other bird populations would slowly increase.

So far, I’ve seen wild ravens in Germany only twice: On Rügen, in a National Park, and once before in Bavaria, so long ago that I forgot the details. And here there was one, happily strutting around the Bharal enclosure!

I pulled up my camera, which I had held hidden under my jacket as it was raining a bit. By the time I had it switched to “on”, then to “sports”, pulled it up and aimed it at the bird the raven had taken off – flight zone of about 40 meters, I guess! That told me that I was not looking at a captive bird that had escaped its cage!

I managed a few pictures before the bird landed in a tree above the Takins (another post for another Mammal Monday).

more ravens below the fold – and better pictures, too!

one more bad picture, as it shows the remiges so nicely:

The raven sat in the tree for a while, crowing loudly, but didn’t say Nevermore! Pity.

It soon flew off, and I got a few more shaky shots against the sky, but I found it again – perched on the highest pint nearby, the top of the raven cage on top of a hill in the zoo!
It flew away before I was able to get a good photo, again making me realize the huge flight zone of a truly wild raven. But I managed to take a bunch of very nice pictures of the zoo ravens, who had just been fed.

(sorry this is a bit blurry, the raven moved so fast that I instinctively tracked it with the camera [quite well] but didn’t manage to keep the lens on one of the gaps of the cage’s mesh).

Lemme say this out loud: corvids are darn smart and cool birds!

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
This entry was posted in Aves, Dinopics, Dinosauria, Maniraptora, Theropoda, Zoos. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Theropod Thursday 25: Nevermore!

  1. himmapaan says:

    Wonderful. I bet all that cawing translates as ‘Nevermore!’, though. 😉

    Really looking forward to the takins too, by the way.

  2. Mark Robinson says:

    You were probably lucky that he didn’t try to pluck out one of your eyeballs!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quoth_The_Raven#Quoth

  3. Pingback: Corvids – coal-black, croaky, clever! | dinosaurpalaeo

  4. Pingback: Theropod Thursday 34: two African corvids | dinosaurpalaeo

  5. Pingback: Theropod Thursday 39: a New Year’s eve feast | dinosaurpalaeo

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