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Raven question (1 Viewer)


New member
United States

We've had a Raven family visit us for several years now and I'm trying to figure out the pecking order.

In the beginning, we had Ralph and Alice who would come to our back yard fountain. Ralph was clearly the larger, more dominant male. Alice made the usual female clucking sounds. They preened each other and Ralph would feed Alice pretty regularly. Then all of a sudden we had three, Ralph, Alice and now Norton. Norton was a pink-mouthed juvenile. Within two weeks, we had four, Ralph, Alice, Norton and Trixie. Norton and Trixie would beg for food and mainly Ralph would feed them. Norton made ridiculously loud begging noises, would scream and beg even though the food was right in front of him. All were happy, and for a period of about a month or two, we had a family of four.

I put out quality dog food and other meats when available. They have an amazing ability to picture me in 3D space in my house. They know how to find me in the house if I close a shade. They clearly can keep a model of the house in their minds, and can follow me from window to window. I don't know how many time I would look up from a new work area and see them staring at me.

Then Trixie (juve female) stopped coming regularly. She showed up a few times intermittently and then not at all. We live in NorCal and there are raptors around all the time. Norton remained and his mouth slowly darkened while he grew large, I would say 20% larger than Ralph. Ralph remained the dominant bird. He would jump into the pile of food and dole it out, first to Alice and then Norton. Norton wouldn't even swoop at Ralph. I don't know how many time I watched Ralph cache food while Norton went hungry.

Here's where it got confusing. Alice disappeared and Norton seems to have taken her place. I could be wrong but the dominant bird is still Ralph. He has a serious hook on his beak and has had it as long as I remember. Norton no longer begs for food but him and Ralph preen each other. Norton has a very shiny, rich feathered body whereas Ralph looks battle-scarred.

I have three copies of Bernd Heinrich's book, "The mind of the Raven" and have read it thoroughly. I know that just because a bird feeds first doesn't make them the dominant bird but Ralph is clearly the boss since day one. There are more than enough Ravens in the area. I counted 10 or more at a local parking lot one day. Ralph could easily find another mate if Alice is gone. This is the question then, is it possible or probable that Norton is hanging around with Ralph or is it more likely that I have things mixed up from day one? Or is is possible that this lager bird is a female and not Norton at all? I'll have to post some pictures.

Ralph comes very near to me, within a foot, though won't take hand feeding, but comes when called and takes over when he arrives. He can hear me for almost half a mile. I've seen Ralph and Norton fly with locked talons, one upside down. Ralph will often do a wing-over when he swoops in.


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