Sunday, January 29, 2012


One of the early Nunavut facts I learned was about ravens. I mean, I've read about ravens being smart, but until you see them in action you can't quite believe how clever they are. A gathering of ravens is called either an unkindness or a conspiracy. Both names work very well.

Let's give you an example. My neighbour across the street is dog-sitting for a friend. So this morning he has the dog tied on out front, a beautiful husky. And the neighbour put some food out for the dog. This, naturally has attracted some of the local ravens.

So as we can see here, the conspiracy is gathering around the dog, who is just sitting back and watching it all unfold.

Next, we have him wandering over to remind some of the ravens they shouldn't be quite so close to him and his food. By the way, the raven were essentially distracting him....

And now we have him chasing after some of the ravens who were making a play for his food while the ravens from the above photo were distracting him.

Sit, repeat.

I took these photos this morning around 11 am and as I write this around 1:30 pm it's still happening. Well, it's evolved. At one point I counted around 20 ravens, which was beginning to drive the dog mad. Even after the food was removed, the ravens still kept at him. There's only four over there now and the dog is curled up in a ball and is ignoring them.

I swear, right now it looks for all the world to be a game of raven chicken. To see which raven can get closest to the dog and not get eaten. They've done everything but land right on top of him.

You want to be careful about anthropomorphizing the behaviour of animals too much. For all I know, the dog and the ravens were play for the last couple of hours. Still, given how hard the dog is working to ignore them right now, it's hard not to view the ravens as dicks.

So there you go, your north lesson for today...

Last Five
1. Bull in a China shop - Barenaked Ladies
2. Susie - Wonderful Grand Band
3. Hunting for witches - Bloc Party*
4. My pet snakes - Jenny and Johnny
5. First love - Adele


Way Way Up said...

I recall seeing a flock of ravens destroy an entire bag of dog food a guy had left unattended in the back of his pickup when I was living in Fort Smith.

Anonymous said...

I watched a raven deliberately dive bomb my front window when my cat was watching - skimmed as close as possible - the flying was amazing!! The cat hit the glass as he pounced. I swear that bird was laughing as it flew away...

Dave H said...

I wonder if thats a learned behaviour? I was up there in 2004 and a guy told me of watching ravens team up to steal his dogs food.

Megan said...

I watched a raven play chicken with a couple of wolves outside my office window on Friday. He just barely got away.

The Perfect Storm said...


Amazing the adaptation to man's urbanizing the ecosystem there.


Anonymous said...

Ravens and wolves have a pretty close relationship. I think the chain around the dogs neck has caused him to forget that.