Sep 10 2009
Crows and ravens are both corvids but they aren’t friends. Crows are smaller and can be preyed upon by the smarter and much more powerful ravens. So crows raise the alarm – if appropriate – when they see a raven.
I say “if appropriate” because crows are careful. If they think they can’t safely make a ruckus they show great respect and quietly leave the scene. But if the raven is at a disadvantage, watch out!
That’s how I found a young raven one morning at Acadia National Park. I heard two ravens calling at dawn and had seen an adult with a youngster the evening before, so I assumed it was them. One of the ravens landed in a tree near the road, the other flew away. About ten minutes later six crows showed up.
The raven cawed like a crow as the crows approached but they weren’t fooled and started shouting at the raven. They surrounded him and scolded him loudly. They were really annoyed by his attempt to speak “crow.”
The raven changed his tune and made a noise that sounded like a girl shouting “Ho!” If I hadn’t seen the raven do it I would have thought it was a girl calling to her companions from the hiking trail.
Ravens are great mimics so perhaps this one learned by example. He called again and the other raven returned. The crows quickly dispersed. His call for help worked, even though it was the sound of a human voice.
(photo by M.I.K.E. via Shutterstock)