Ravens, Corvus corax, are large sleek, black shiny, and extremely smart. A raven will assess a problem, figure out a tool and make the tool with another tool if needed to meet a challenge head-on. A trait I admire. Resourceful, clever, undaunted.
In Oregon, on the Central Oregon Coast, the Northern Raven inhabits the open and forested places.
Native people of the Pacific Northwest regard the raven as an incurable trickster, bringing fire to people by stealing it from the sun, and stealing salmon only to drop them in rivers all over the world. 1
Anecdotal evidence – isn’t that what you call it when someone tells you what they saw? – reveals that ravens can get a little rowdy and destructive when, in the autumn, berries ferment on the vine. Ravens eat them, as do other birds. But, when ravens eat fermenting berries which are, in fact, wine, the ravens get drunk and rowdy. They have been seen stumbling about the parking lot at Cape Perpetua looking around and spoiling for a fight. Normally the picture of pride and decorum admired and loved, the Cape Perpetua raven pair get berry drunk and attack inanimate objects that, in their state of drunkenness, are an annoyance or threat. For example, cars.
It has been observed, scientifically, that ravens form nesting pairs that stay together all year long. The pair then spends much energy defending what they view as their place in the world from all intruders. When a pair of ravens is berry drunk, even that raven in the side mirror must be repelled – beaten to a bloody pulp. Ravens can cause some damage. At Cape Perpetua, the resident raven pair caused damages to vehicles in the thousands of visitor dollars.
A simple observer, I only see the fine and noble raven. I smile at the male, he bows to acknowledge me (or so I would like to believe about his nod). He feels large, an imposing presence – a middle-aged raven maybe 5 – 7 years old – standing in the evergreen tree just a bit away from the door of the Cape Perpetua visitor center. Turning to lock the door behind me, I feel safe – like walking with a street-wise boyfriend on the mean streets – when I see the raven nearby.
But, you can’t hit and run in a blur of Autumnal drunkenness and get away with it every year, not even if you’re a clever and noble bird, not even if you’re a clever and noble bird who has been there longer than most of the people, not when dollars are involved.
This morning, October 31, 2013, a Forest Service employee raised a gun fitted with a silencer (so none of the nature lovers visiting the area would be disturbed) and killed the raven pair.
And, my co-worker aged 42 with wife and three children at home and a mortgage he can barely cover was fired from his job today, October 31, 2013. Fired from his job of 16 and ½ years.
It’s always about dollars. Tears, like mine, only prove one thing regarding ravens and co-workers – I was made for some other place.
1 The Cornell Lab of Ornithology