I 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.