Ravens in Juneau, Alaska
© Brian Browitt Photo/Adobe Stoc
An unkindness of ravens. Ravens
With their black feathers standing in sharp contrast to the misty Alaskan background, this group of ravens perched on a leafless tree conjures up a fitting image for this spooky time of year. In the folkloric traditions of many cultures around the world, these highly adaptable, intelligent birds have been considered symbols of all manner of unpleasantness. In Chinese mythology, they're blamed for bad weather, while Celts associated them with warfare. In some Native American traditions ravens are often represented as mischievous tricksters, while many European cultures associate them with evil spirits, usually of demonic origin. In English, a gathering of ravens like this is even called an 'unkindness'!
But the truth about these birds is that they are intelligent and sociable creatures, who happen to be very good to each other. They usually forage for food in pairs, are highly communicative, and love to play. Ravens also mate for life and are devoted parents who both fully participate in the raising of their fledglings. These super-smart birds even console each other, offer each other gifts, and recognize other friendly birds as well as individual human faces. So, while they may look menacing, you'll probably get along with them just fine if you treat them with respect. If not, well, these birds have been known to hold a grudge! After all, another term for a group of ravens is 'conspiracy.' Let's try to stay on their good side.