Sunday, December 19, 2010


The Raven. Black. Song? I guess you can categorize a "caw" as a song. There doesn't seem to be anything special about them. To me they are the dandelion of birds. When I grew up in Maryland, I remember seeing them flying around the neighborhood, usually with a couple of smaller songbirds attacking them from above. I would wonder what the raven did to warrant such an attack. I remember seeing a raven, or maybe it was a crow, eating a baby bird that I assume he stole from a nest. I guess that's why his presence was despised. Often times in the city, I would see ravens gathered around a trash can, picking garbage out of an alley. I did not really have pleasant memories or associations with this bird.

When hiking around LA, every time I reached a peak and would look out over the city, or into the rugged mountains of the San Gabriel's, I would search the skies for birds. Usually I would see one from a distance and wonder, "Is it an eagle? Is it a hawk?" To my disappointment, 99% of the time I would discover that it was just a raven. "Oh, it's just a raven."

This routine seemed to unfold time and time again.

I don't recall when the switch in my mind occurred. Eventually, as I climbed the mountains, I would see a bird in the distance and wonder, "Is it an eagle? Is it a hawk?" Then exclaim, "Oh, it's the raven!"
While on the PCT, the routine changed a little more. While hiking along a high mountain ridge somewhere, the question became, "Is it the raven? Yes, it is the raven!!"
They have become constant companions in every mountain range my feet have stepped upon. Without fail, despite the weather, despite the elevation, the raven has been there to offer its greetings when hiking through and over the mountains. Now, no longer a pest, I am happy to offer my greetings as well. I still cringe however, when I see such magnificent beasts eating trash in a filthy ally. "Don't eat here," I want to say. "Head for the mountains!"


  1. Interesting subject for a post. On the way to church yesterday, I came across a flock (I didn't even know they flocked!) of about 50 flying over a parking lot. It was a good sight to see. A few years ago when West Nile first hit out here, their populations were devasted, and they went from a common to a rare sight. I've noticed in the last couple of years they're making a big comeback out here. Good to see!

  2. "A murder. A group of crows is called a 'murder.'" -- Homer J. Simpson. :D