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Spring brings ideal conditions to view how intelligent ravens are

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 5:12 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With spring bringing more wind to the Fairbanks area, the conditions are great for raven watching.

According to the Associated Press, ravens in Anchorage have been snatching groceries right out of shoppers’ carts on coordinated operations.

This doesn’t surprise Mark Ross, a biologist at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Ross explained, “I’ve seen ravens out here in the field steal the groceries from bald eagles. Say an eagle has taken a goose on the field and is feeding on it, a couple ravens will come in - I’ve seen them cooperate - one raven will tug on the eagle’s tail, the eagle will turn to face that one, and then the second one jumps in and starts dragging the goose away, and it goes back and forth, back and forth until the eagle gives up the goose.”

Ravens are very intelligent animals, even rivaling primates according to Ross. “Ravens of course, are very intelligent creatures. All wild animals learn quickly where to find their food in order to survive in the wild, and ravens have proven to be one of the most intelligent of animals. Researchers have performed experiments where ravens have outperformed even primates and monkeys on tool use, tool selection, and outperformed primates in memory too.”

Ross says spring is an ideal time to view ravens according to Ross. He told us, “If you’re a bird watcher, this is a great time of year to appreciate ravens. They’re going to begin courting. You’re going to be seeing lots of interesting behavior, lots of interesting vocalizations. Ravens have one of the greatest arrays of vocalizations of any songbird. They are a songbird, by the way - the largest songbird in the world. So this is a great time of year to watch ravens playing in the wind, but don’t turn your back on the trickster.”

There are several locations around Fairbanks one can view Ravens.

“A good play of course is at the grocery store. They’re always in the parking lot. You know, the ravens here in Fairbanks, they come in the morning - hundreds and hundreds of them - and they stake their territory in the parking lots. That’s a great place to watch them interact. Also, around tall buildings like at the university up by the museum, they really like the wind up there and you can see them playing in the wind. This is a great time of year because in the spring we get more wind,” said Ross.

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