And, apparently, ravens are extremely good at exactly that! This pair of Common Ravens staked out an interesting piece of real estate and set up house keeping lickety-split.
Now, birds are great adapters, I know. They spare no effort nor creativity as they attempt to cope with human encroachment on their territories. If you doubt that, check out this amazing Osprey nest from the archives of Pure Florida, a terrific, mostly-nature, purely-Florida blog.
However, these ravens are not victims of territory infringement or over-crowding. They could go anywhere, hundreds of miles in any direction, and be away from "civilization" if they really wanted to. I imagine (perhaps naively) that they come here and live in this village, claiming the telephone poles, rooftops, heating vents, and even satellite dishes completely by choice. I'm sure dumpsters are a big draw in and of themselves, but I find myself wondering if they might hang out in a village because they actually like being around people (and their pets). Not in a friendly, up close and personal sort of way, but from a distance, out of curiosity and an innate propensity for pestering.
Some of the kids around here call these birds "crows." I grew up surrounded by cornfields in the South. I know what crows are and these are not crows. Not only are they much larger than crows, but their vocalizations are completely different. I found a great sound file on whatBird.com (one of my favorite resources) along with a nice map of their habitat which ranges across most of North America year-round. There are a couple of sounds that I've heard ravens produce that are not on the website recording and they're difficult to describe...something akin to the clicks and whistles of R2D2 in Star Wars. I couldn't find a free copy of that, so you'll just have to use your memory (or imagination).
Ravens have personality. I can't even count how many times a raven or two has followed my dog and me on our walks across the tundra or along the river. Are they opportunistic? Absolutely! Maybe they follow us in the hope that we'll scare up lemmings or other such potential food, but when I mimic their vocalizations, they always talk back. I don't imagine it to be amiable conversation. It's more like talking to a crotchety old geezer who shouts unsolicited advice from his porch.
My first experience with ravens ocurred back when I was still a newbie in this village. Two were on the roof of my house, waging war, their enormous claws clicking loudly against the tin. I hurried outside to reprimand whatever naughty child must be throwing rocks on the roof and found the enormous dueling-twosome instead. They looked like shiny black knights locked in mortal combat.
But these two, on the other hand, have something different in mind.
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")