Its evocation has something sinister: we commonly call “crow”, the Great Raven (Corvus corax). Its black silhouette evokes a cold windy cliffscape, in a threatening croak. Its reputation as a bird of misfortune is due to its scavenging nature.
Thus Vincent Van Gogh’s Field of Wheat with Crows is held to be his ultimate painting: not certain, but the crows are there! By superstition, this bird symbolizes misfortune and death. And it is not only in painting: in the cinema, The Raven (1943) by Henri-Georges Clouzot is the author of slanderous letters, which reveals the clandestine abortions performed by a certain doctor Germain.
Description of this bird
The size of the raven
It is as big as a buzzard. This bird is the largest passerine of Europe. Its size is not foreign to its bad reputation: it measures up to 70 cm. Above all, it weighs between 500 and 1600 gr, living proof that it does not omit to eat.
As for its wingspan, it is easily of one meter, what to leave the doubt. The whole for a life expectancy of more than fifteen years! It is not uncommon to compare the raven to a buzzard, a bird of prey with a highly pejorative connotation in the current language.
The crow, an intelligent bird
More unexpected is the fable of the Raven and the Fox by Jean de La Fontaine, which attributes to this bird an astonishing credulity in view of its intelligence.
He is neither a raptor nor a fool. It is quite the opposite: scientists have demonstrated that this bird has an intelligence comparable to that of the great apes, and even of Man. Indeed, it is one of the rare animals able to anticipate: it stores its food, which is commonplace, except that it finds it, which is more exceptional in the animal kingdom.
Another proof of real intellectual aptitudes, this bird solves incredibly the problems to which it is submitted by the researchers. And this, except for its powerful beak, it does not use any other tool in nature. It shows a great sense of deduction.
The raven is also a bird endowed with virtues that we call human: it is faithful, sociable and courageous. This passerine bird unites in couple for the life. As for its courage, this bird braves its predators, which are the raptors, the peregrine falcon, the great horned owl, and especially the white-tailed eagle, the largest raptor in Europe.
It also knows how to be agile and cautious: few crows let themselves be caught, just like the carrion they collect on the roadside.
The great raven, a powerful cry
It is always in flight, that the crow caws: here is what adds to the imagination. When an upward current allows it, it hovers and makes hear this hoarse and powerful cry. This is enough to make the imagination run wild, especially since this bird likes to repeat itself.
We are less familiar with its chatter, light but rare, so that it adds to the representation that we have of him.
The raven: its food
There lies the powerful spring of its sinister reputation: this bird feeds on animal corpses. As for insects, worms and slugs, they are not enough for him! It plunders the nests of other passerines and seabirds. He also hunts partridges. And no quarter to a wounded hare.
The crow in France, the return ?
Crow or raven?
The crow and, to a lesser extent, the jackdaw, are much more present in France. Sedentary bird of Brittany, Cotentin, Pyrenees, Massif Central, and South-East France, the common crow has been decimated because of its plundering side.
Thus, it is easier to observe it in Canada than on our own coasts.
The raven, a protected species
Nevertheless, the raven is now a protected species, which is making a comeback. It used to plunder rabbits, bird nests, and even seeds and fruits? Yes, this bird is voracious from birth: the young are so insatiable that their parents exhaust themselves feeding them.
Except that this voracity is part of the ecological balance of certain regions. If he gets his hands on a rabbit, he starts with the whole fauna of the bugs that the farmer does not need. It’s a bit of a give and take. One less rabbit for a lot of slugs eliminated.
And let’s not forget the magic of their intellect. Go figure, if the crow has given up all its secrets. Did you say a life expectancy of fifteen years? The Tower of London was home to a raven in his seventies.