13 January 2021
The smartest bird in the western hemisphere, the common raven (Corvus corax), has come to town and is claiming nest sites in the City of Pittsburgh. Ravens have been seen in Schenley Park, above, and are regularly found at Forbes Avenue in Frick Park. This is a big deal because…
Common ravens were extirpated from eastern North America by 1900. After 1950 they slowly recolonized remote areas of the north and Appalachians but were rarely seen in eastern cities. We were very surprised when a pair showed up at Brunot’s Island in October 2007 and eventually nested there. Since then, very slowly, ravens have become more visible in Pittsburgh.
Ted Floyd, editor of the ABA’s Birding Magazine, sparked a discussion of city ravens in his blog post: How to Know the Birds: No. 51, The Impossible Raven.
Ted has Pittsburgh roots from the time when ravens were scarce, but now lives in Boulder, Colorado where ravens are common in town. His tweet prompted lots of feedback from Pittsburgh birders.
There’s no unspoiled wilderness in PA so every raven here is impressively smart + cautious about humans (and who wouldn’t be?). I’m glad ravens decided cities are ok.— Kate StJohn Birdblog (@KStJBirdblog) January 12, 2021
Michelle Kienholz contributed video of ravens at Forbes Ave in Frick Park including a second video of a raven “whispering” sweet nothings to his/her mate. (Michelle’s remark refers to a photo of the raven diorama at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History taken by Mike Fialkovich.)
And now you can see them on Forbes Ave (hope you’re paying your stringer Mike Fialkovich well!) pic.twitter.com/Q86eo4dLse— Michelle Kienholz (@writedit) January 12, 2021
[When the car noise abates briefly at 0:19 below you can almost hear what the raven is saying, a muted “whup … whup”.]
Yes – just down the road apiece from your boyhood diorama … here he is trying to convey his passion for another raven in the trees below the bridge but being drowned out by traffic. A cyclist saw me videoing and said, wow – that’s a really big crow! pic.twitter.com/3AC4IzaIHR— Michelle Kienholz (@writedit) January 13, 2021
Watch and listen for ravens in the city. “Brock! Brock!”
(photos by Andrea Lavin Kossis and Chuck Tague plus embedded tweets)