Monday afternoon (March 16), I saw a raven in the alley on the west side of Cambie Street at about 17th Avenue. It was in the company of six crows and at first glance I took it to be just another crow—albeit an exceptionally large one.
I should probably say that I “noticed” the raven because I must have seen them before but mistaken them for crows (not a hard thing to do, if there are no crows for comparison).
There are strong family resemblances between the two species of corvids, and I could almost imagine that the quiet raven was a parent shepherding its six small children on an outing.
However, the raven stood aloof and apart, completely ignoring the “kids”, which were all adult crows anyway—for all their squawking.
With its greater size, larger beak, and more powerful build (it had shoulders for goodness sake!), there was too much deadly predator in the look of the raven to confuse it with one of the northwestern crows it was in the company of.
The raven looked like a crow designed by a defence contractor—like a big CF-188 supersonic fighter jet beside pokey little Cessna business jets.
Even the raven’s large beak looked adapted to soaring flight and snatching prey while the little crow beaks looked more suited to, I don’t know, picking locks.
And befitting its body size (not to mention the size of its honker), the raven also had a distinctively big call: shorter, louder, and deeper than a typical crow’s “caw caw”.
The country corvid visits its city cousins
Quite possibly the raven I saw Monday in the Cambie Street area was just there to visit its relatives and perhaps to do a bit of shopping.
While crows are highly social birds adapted to city living, ravens are described as solitary hunters, preferring less crowded, less urban environments, where they can better spread their big wings.