Bedtime in Ravenville

By   January 27, 2016

Bedtime in Ravenville SMALLERI move through the desert now intensely aware of ravens. I see them everywhere and try to learn from every sighting. These black birds have become the focal point of my life as a biologist. I have become largely numb to their omnipresence in the Mojave but every now and then I am still taken aback. Case in point: I spent this evening with Frank and Dane, a couple of young friends and Hardshell collaborators (from Apple Valley’s Lewis Center for Educational Research), and 1,500 or so ravens at a giant roost north of Victorville. I have dubbed the site “Ravenville” and it has become a perverse sort of Mecca for me- I can count on seeing hundreds of them there every time I visit. I wanted to get a photo of the gathering at last light of the mass of ravens on the power lines where most of the crowd spends the night.

In the deepening dark I snapped this photo- a little blurry, but it suggests the weirdness of the moment. That black line snaking a half mile or more from foreground to back is a solid line of ravens, hundreds of them, strung like beads along a power line. Having streamed in from all points of the compass they were settling in for a winter night’s snooze, secure perhaps in the knowledge that the morrow would bring more fine scavenging in the generous world we humans have built for them. Goodnight, Mr. Hitchcock. Goodnight, Mr. Poe.


6 Comments on “Bedtime in Ravenville

  1. Jeff Beckwith

    Hi we are jolene and jeff.We have raised and trained free flying ravens.We have a unique understanding of these highly intelligent birds.Yes we are interested.

  2. Wendy Walker

    Hi Tim,
    You know how to get ahold of me, but here is my info anyway.

  3. Marina

    I love these birds i am very interested. I feed a large group of them every morning. They are there waiting for breakfast each day. They are highly intelligent birds. Some communicate with me.

  4. Wendy Walker

    I was checking out this photo, truly stunning. I remember a Field Study of Birds, course I took with Gene Cardiff, museum biologist for SB County museum about 20 years ago. He told us the story of going out in the desert many, many years ago and not seeing any ravens for days and when they did find one, it was a big deal. Now look at them on the high wire like so many welfare recipients.

    I knew of a rehabber up here who was largely irresponsible in his care and release of animals. He used to take in crows from down the hill and release them at the fairgrounds in Victorville. I lived in the desert for 15 years and never saw a crow, and then another 10 years after this guy kept releasing them at that location, I began to see more and more around Victorville. I will always wonder if it was his neglignence that established crows in the high desert, or if I just never really noticed them…and I can tell the two apart both by call and shape.

    1. Tim Shields Post author

      Interesting perspective on Gene Cardiff- I had heard the same story about the rarity of ravens in the old days. No more- ravens are now the “wild” species most commonly observed by desert dwelling humans. Our peak count for Ravenville is around 5900. On that night we counted 3400 entering the area in a 15 minute period! Now the question is: how do we manage both the numbers and the behavior of this overwhelming mass of highly intelligent omnivores?

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