Did you know that ravens are some of the smartest animals on earth? Learn all about them below!
Some basic raven facts to start:
Although they are commonly mistaken for a crow (another member of the corvid family), the raven is two and a half times the size of a crow.
Ravens live in a monogamous social structure, and occasionally a pair will mate for life.
They are extremely playful and are commonly seen performing aerial acrobatics, or sparring matches mid-air.
They are great parents! Ravens build on to the same nest year after year, so they can get as big as four-feet across. Then, they add a lining of fur, from the carcasses that they feed on, which helps incubate their eggs.
Ravens, like most birds, have a nictitating membrane (see below), which is a white/blue membrane that forms an inner eyelid, and can be drawn across the eye to keep it moist or protect it from dust.
Let's jump right in; how smart are ravens?
Ravens are very communicative, there are over 30 vocal sounds that have been recorded. And, they are excellent at mimicking sounds, such as other animal calls (more on that below), car alarms, sirens and even human speech!
They have facial recognition! Researchers have found that ravens are able to remember the faces of people who they have had negative interactions with, and they will hold a grudge against that person. They will also alert other ravens in the area of this person, so the whole group will avoid or act aggressively toward them.
They use and make tools to get food. For example, there have been documented cases of ravens who have torn twigs from a tree to fashion a hook, in order to get hard-to-reach food.
There are so many studies that have been done on ravens, including one that proves that ravens are remarkable problem solvers. One raven in study was able to solve an eight-step puzzle using sticks and rocks.
Ravens have the ability to mimic wolf howls. This is extremely beneficial for both the ravens and the wolves, because the ravens have an aerial advantage of spotting carcasses before the wolves, but lack the ability to rip into a fresh carcass. So, they call over the wolves, who become aware of the carcass and are able to tear into the animal, and the ravens are able to join the wolf pack in the feast.
Like many animals, ravens can plan for the future; but the level at which ravens can plan for the future parallels humans and great apes. For example, it was proved in one study that ravens are able to predict future outcomes. In the study, they were trained to exchange a token for a food reward; later, they were given the choice of a low-quality food item or a token. In the end, 73% of ravens choose the token because they assumed it could be exchanged for a higher quality food item. This also proves that ravens have incredible self-control.
So, there you have it: ravens are incredibly smart.
Take a minute to appreciate them next time you see one, and make sure you're time to it too— because trust me, it'll remember if you're not!
*Photos were taken by Matt Hergert, check out his photography at www.matthergertphotography.com*
Featured trip: Lamar to Hoodoo Basin
Are you a experienced backpacker? Are you a Yellowstone Enthusiast? Are you looking for a remote and challenging trip?
If so, this is the trip for you!
On this backpacking trip from Lamar Valley to the rugged and remote Hoodoo Basin, we will hike deep into the eastern edge of the park where few ever go. You will find true solitude, untouched scenery, pristine mountain habitat and haunting landscape. Welcome to the real Yellowstone!
This truly is the trip of a lifetime. We can't wait to see you on the trail!