In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, the ravens raise their families by building a nest of sticks and grass high on the edge of a cliff, a place where predators can not reach them. Unlike their smaller crow cousins, the ravens need more room for their nest. A stick nest in a tree may be OK for 5 or 6 young crows but could not hold 5 or 6 young ravens. An adult raven may stand two feet tall, twice as tall as a full-grown crow.
I've never seen a raven in the southern half of the states but I have watched them in the north and the western states. There is no mistaking a large black raven for a crow. The ravens tend to soar and glide on their long out-stretched wings much more than do the crows. The long tail of the raven is wedge- shaped when in flight where the crows tail is square.
Both the crow and raven are very vocal but their voices are very different. The crows alarming caw caw can be imitated by any child but the voice of the raven is much lower and comes out as CR-R-RUCK, CR-R- RUCK.
By mid June the fledgling ravens are nearly big enough to leave the nest, this can't happen soon enough for the parent birds who have been extra busy every day trying to find food for their hungry offspring. Even a large hawk or eagle doesn't have so many hungry mouths to feed.
Like crows, ravens are very smart and resourceful. Anything that looks like food and isn't too big to fly with will be carried back to their nest of hungry babies. Snakes, frogs, mice, voles, larger insects and other young birds may become a meal for the young ravens. Much of what makes up a raven's diet is carrion. They are some of nature's best housekeepers, cleaning up the remains of dead animals, not unlike the way vultures do. Ravens have been seen dropping shellfish from high above the ground, smashing them on the rocks below.
The mystical black raven has been a bird of great medicine to the native peoples of North America. They believed that it was raven who was the bringer of magic to all living things. They believed that the magic and courage to enter the darkness of the void, which is the home of all that is not yet in form. This form is called the Great Mystery.
For native americans, the color black means many things other than evil. Black means you are seeking the answers to the Great Mystery and a road to the spiritual and the non- physical world.
The guide to healing and the change of consciousness is the magic which raven could bring to help dispel disease or illness. The power of the raven medicine could carry the flow of energy to the people who need courage and strength.
There's no doubt that raven was the most powerful and worshipped bird by ancient peoples around the earth.
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