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Recently, I encountered a pair of Common Ravens. I find these birds often to be wary in the presence of humans. For that reason, they are usually very difficult to photograph. However, this pair appeared to be indifferent to my presence nearby. I believe that the ravens’ blasé attitude about me had to do with the fact that they were perching in a suburban neighborhood and they were inured to the comings and goings of people.
I was immediately struck by the fact that one of the ravens was vocalizing and the other appeared to be listening.
The sounds that the “talking” bird was emitting were not the loud “caws” that ravens make when they are sounding the alarm, but rather, a series of soft clicking noises and honking tones. The second bird seemed to be quite interested in what the other was saying.
I don’t speak raven, so I can’t translate the conversation. But I do know this: ravens definitely speak to each other. They are masters of vocalization, emitting an enormous array of tones and calls. They are also excellent mimics, being able to replicate noises that range from car horns to phrases of human speech. Scientists studying ravens have concluded that local populations of these birds develop a language consisting of many sounds. So it isn’t far-fetched to say that the two in this image were communicating with each other.
The image illustrates something else about ravens besides their propensity to speak to each other. It’s likely that the ravens in this image are a mated pair. Ravens mate for life and the mated pairs are very closely bonded. Mated ravens spend most of their time associating with each other. When I’m out searching for wildlife, I’ll often spot what I think at first glance is a solitary raven. In the majority of instances I will spot a second raven perching or flying very close to the first bird.
Image made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 2000, f7.1 @ 1/3200, +1 1/3 stops exposure compensation.