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S.C.V. History
October 21-22
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]


Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

There were eight of them. Large black birds wheeling, sailing, diving, soaring and rolling against the strong breeze, looking as though they were having the time of their lives. Then they disappeared over the hill.

I see them and hear them often on our morning walks, sometimes very close and at other times sailing over that big hill at the end of our little valley. Ravens truly are amazing birds with endless legends, myths, history and stories as well as facts about them. Google “bird raven” and you get 23,700,000 hits.

The common raven (Corus corax), also known as the Northern raven, is the largest perching bird and the most widely distributed of all corvids (crows, jays and magpies). It is an intelligent bird – a bird with a sense of humor that plays tricks, a bird found throughout the northern hemisphere from arctic to temperate zones, including deserts, and islands in the Pacific Ocean, and up to 20,000 feet on Mount Everest. Everyone at Placerita Canyon knows the raven for its giant nests in the picnic area and its frequent presence.

Ravens average 25 inches in length and weigh a little over 2.5 pounds. Some remarkable feats of problem-solving have been observed in the species, leading to the belief that the birds are highly intelligent. Over the centuries, the raven has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art and literature. “Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore! Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’”

In many indigenous cultures, including those of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland and Wales, Bhutan, the northwest coast of North America, Siberia and northeast Asia, the common raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or god.

It has coexisted with humans for thousands of years and in some areas has been so numerous that it is considered a pest. Part of its success comes from its omnivorous diet; common ravens are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals and food waste.

In recent years, biologists have recognized that birds engage in play. Juvenile common ravens are among the most playful of bird species. They have been observed to slide down snowbanks, apparently purely for fun. They even engage in games with other species, such as playing catch-me-if-you-can with wolves and dogs.

Common ravens are known for spectacular aerobatic displays, such as flying in loops or interlocking talons with each other in flight. They are also one of only a few species that make their own toys. They have been observed breaking off twigs to play with socially.

Common ravens have been observed to manipulate others into doing work for them, such as by calling wolves and coyotes to the site of dead animals. The canines open the carcass, making it more accessible to the birds. They watch where other common ravens bury their food and remember the locations of each other’s food caches so they can steal from them. This type of theft occurs so regularly that common ravens will fly extra distances from a food source to find better hiding places for food. They have also been observed pretending to make a cache without actually depositing the food, presumably to confuse onlookers.

Common ravens are known to steal and cache shiny objects such as pebbles, pieces of metal and golf balls. One theory is that they hoard shiny objects to impress other ravens. Other research indicates that juveniles are deeply curious about all new things, and that common ravens retain an attraction to bright, round objects based on their similarity to bird eggs. Mature birds lose this intense interest in the unusual.

Photo: USGS

Juveniles begin to court at an early age but may not bond for another two or three years. Aerial acrobatics, demonstrations of intelligence and an ability to provide food are key behaviors of courting. Once paired, they tend to nest together for life, usually in the same location. Instances of non-monogamy have been observed in common ravens, by males visiting a female’s nest when her mate is away.

Breeding pairs must have a territory of their own before they begin nest-building and reproduction, and thus aggressively defend a territory and its food resources. Nesting territories vary in size according to the density of food resources in the area.

The nest is a deep bowl made of large sticks and twigs, bound with an inner layer of roots, mud and bark and lined with a softer material. The nest is usually placed in a large tree or on a cliff ledge, or less frequently in old buildings or utility poles.

Females lay three to seven pale bluish-green, brown-blotched eggs. Incubation is about 18 to 21 days, by the female only. However, the male may stand or crouch over the young, sheltering but not actually brooding them. Young fledge at 35 to 42 days and are fed by both parents. They stay with their parents for another six months after fledging.

Like other corvids, ravens can mimic sounds from their environment, including human speech. They have a wide range of vocalizations. Fifteen to 30 categories of vocalization have been recorded for this species, most of which are used for social interaction. Calls recorded include alarm calls, chase calls and flight calls.

Non-vocal sounds produced by the common raven include wing whistles and bill snapping. Clapping or clicking has been observed more often in females than in males. If a member of a pair is lost, its mate reproduces the calls of its lost partner to encourage its return.

 

This article originally appeared in the May-June 2012 edition of The Rattler, the newsletter of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates. The Nature Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. For information or to volunteer, visit www.Placerita.org. Join the PCNCA Facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/pcnca.

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1 Comment

  1. Beth Surdut says:

    Thank you for this informative article on my favorite corvid. I specialize in drawing and collecting stories of true raven encounters. http://www.listeningtoraven.com

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SCV NONPROFIT LINKS

NONPROFIT HEADLINES
Friday, Oct 20, 2017
Forever Fit SCV, a Santa Clarita sports and personal fitness training company, will host a "Pumpkin Workout" at its Centre Pointe location on Saturday, October 28, starting at 9 a.m.
Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
The Gibbon Conservation Center will celebrate Halloween for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
Spotlight Arts Center, a local non-profit that provides free performing and visual arts classes to children in the Santa Clarita Valley, will hold its Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
The Domestic Violence Center (DVC) of Santa Clarita Valley is accepting applications for Adopt-a-Family 2017.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a sexual assault suspect was arrested Thursday night. Plus, some great weekend events. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, October 20, 2017
Forever Fit SCV, a Santa Clarita sports and personal fitness training company, will host a "Pumpkin Workout" at its Centre Pointe location on Saturday, October 28, starting at 9 a.m.
Oct. 25: Pumpkin Workout Benefits American Cancer Society
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: Hart School District Governing Board Meeting
The LA County Public Defender has won the Silver Eagle Award for its Public Defender Jail Liaison Program during the 31st Annual Productivity and Quality Awards Ceremony on Oct. 18 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
LA County Public Defender Soars with Silver Eagle Award
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a heat alert as high temperatures have been forecast for the Los Angeles Basin on Monday, October 23 through Tuesday, October 24.
Heat Alert for SCV, L.A. County on Monday, Tuesday
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has received three major gifts toward the creation of the museum in Los Angeles, bringing fundraising to more than $300M, nearly 80 percent of its $388M campaign goal.
Motion Picture Museum Nears $388M Campaign Goal
Caltrans added nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement repair and 66 bridges to its growing list of projects to be delivered sooner than planned, thanks to the imminent influx of revenue from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), the transportation funding and reform package passed in April.
Nearly $3.4 Billion in Transportation Projects to Be Accelerated
The city of Santa Clarita and SCV Veterans Memorial, Inc. invite the public to attend a special ceremony unveiling the new Fallen Warriors Monument at Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall on Wednesday, November 8 starting at 10 a.m.
Nov. 8: City Unveils Fallen Warriors Monument in Newhall
Crime Prevention deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station along with Los Angeles County Probation Department officers conducted probation compliance searches Friday throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Deputies Check Probationers, Aid in Domestic Violence Call
Here is the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's public safety report for Canyon Country (West), aka Zone 7, for October 2 through October 8, 2017
Crime Blotter: Robbery, Grand Theft in Canyon Country West
A suspect has been arrested in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station officials.
Suspect Arrested in Alleged Sexual Assault
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and a concern the California Highway Patrol addresses with its "Start Smart" program.
CHP Helps New Drivers with ‘Start Smart’ Classes
The California High-Speed Rail Authority punted one of the most important decisions during its monthly meeting Thursday, stoking concerns the entity is not moving quickly enough on the $64 billion project.
California’s Bullet Train Board Delays Award of Key Contract
An extensive investigation by the county of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in conjunction with the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has resulted in a lawsuit announced today by the Attorney General against retailer Curacao.
AG Sues Retailer Curacao for Allegedly Preying on Consumers
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]
CHESTERFIELD, MO — NewGround, a St. Louis-based experiential design-build firm, recently teamed up with Logix Federal Credit Union to work on a large scale facility project, a new corporate headquarters building for the full-service credit union in the Burbank, California area.
Valencia Will Soon be Home to Logix Federal Credit Union Headquarters
The CSUN women's volleyball team (10-9, 4-3 Big West) opens the second half of the Big West season this week as the Matadors head up the coast this week for road tests at No. 23 Cal Poly (17-2, 7-0 Big West) and UC Santa Barbara (4-15, 3-4 Big West). CSUN, coming off a tough five-set loss to Hawai'i at home, is 3-4 in seven road matches this season but has won two of three Big West road contests.
Matadors Volleyball Testing Their Skills on the Road
No. 5 College of the Canyons defeated L.A. Mission College 3-0 on Wednesday to earn its eighth consecutive match and fifth straight sweep. Set scores were 25-15, 25-11, and 25-20.
Cougars Volleyball Earns Fifth Straight Sweep
CSUN Women's Soccer (7-4-5, 3-1-1 BWC) looks to move up in the Big West standings this week as it hosts UC Irvine on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Matadors Get Ready for Big West Matchups
Behind Julio Rubio's goal in the 11th minute CSUN defeated UC Riverside 1-0 in Big West Conference men's soccer action Wednesday night.
Matadors Lone Goal Enough to Hold Off UC Riverside
Northridge, CA – CSUN Athletics officially opened its new satellite athletic training facility on Thursday at an event featuring Athletic Director Dr. Brandon Martin, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Steven Grech, student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus partners.
Matadors Student-Athletes Welcome New Training Facility
Want unique gifts and a shopping experience unlike any other?
Nov. 18-19: City’s Annual Two-Day Fine Craft Show
City officials gathered Wednesday for the Grand Opening of "Three Oaks," the first 100 percent affordable family development in Santa Clarita.
Affordable Housing Comes to Santa Clarita
The Gibbon Conservation Center will celebrate Halloween for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 28: Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates First Halloween
California State University, Northridge is partnering with the California State University Entertainment Alliance to host a morning of workshops designed to offer students and members of the public advice on building successful careers in the entertainment industry.
Oct. 23: CSUN Workshop; Succeeding in Entertainment Industry
Spotlight Arts Center, a local non-profit that provides free performing and visual arts classes to children in the Santa Clarita Valley, will hold its Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Oct. 22: Fall Festival Spotlight Arts Center
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Oct. 21: SCV Youth Teams Invited to Free COC Football Game
College of the Canyons freshmen Joanna Roecker and Cassandra Lee both turned in scores of 79 to lead the Cougars to a second place team finish at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by Glendale College at Brookside Golf Course on Monday.
COC Falls Short at WSC Glendale
Beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, the city of Santa Clarita will increase the frequency of street sweeping throughout all areas of the City.
Oct. 23: City Begins Increased Street Sweeping Frequency
In a battle for Western State Conference, East Division supremacy, it was College of the Canyons that came out on top Tuesday night, as the Cougars scored two second half goals to secure a 2-0 win against visiting Antelope Valley College. Justine Hoeft and Jennifer Roney collected goals for the Cougars (11-2, 2-0).
COC Secures Win Against AVC With Two Second-Half Goals
The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Buckweed Fires offers Santa Clarita residents a reminder of the ever-present fire danger in Los Angeles County, as blazes ravage the northern half of the state, as well.
Officials Reflect on 10-Year Anniversary of Buckweed Fires
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, with help from a Smartphone GPS system, were able to locate a lost hiker Wednesday night at Towsley Canyon.
Smartphone GPS Locates Lost Towsley Canyon Hiker
Dreamation Craft Guild will be hosting a boutique at Canyon High School, Nov. 18, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to benefit the family of John Phippen, the Santa Clarita resident who was killed in the Las Vegas shooting.
Nov. 18: Holiday Marketplace Benefiting John Phippen Family
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To ensure drivers, passengers, and children are properly restrained while traveling California’s roadways, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has partnered with the California Office of Traffic Safety on a new traffic safety campaign entitled, “California Restraint Safety Education And Training” (CARSEAT).
CHP’s New Traffic Safety Campaign Focuses on Saving Lives, Reducing Injuries