One of Rich’s students told him this story the other day:

This guy took his big standard poodle to the dog park. The moment he was off-leash, he spotted a big raven and tore off after it. The raven flew away, but at a rather leisurely pace. Flying low, he led the dog around the park in a big loop, until he had circled completely around and was headed straight over the dog’s owner. His dog crashed headlong into him at full speed. The impact was great enough to smash his glasses; he had little cuts and bruises all around his eyes. He could almost hear the raven laughing.

It reminded me of this great book, “Mind of the Raven,” by Bernd Heinrich.

They are corvids, like jays, and are amazingly smart. They can figure out things and solve problems and use tools. The author is a researcher, and he raised a few ravens from eggs in order to study them more closely than possible in the wild. He raised them in a huge open-air aviary.

They can be quite cautious, especially with unfamiliar scenarios. For instance, the author found that they would eat their favorite foods all day long, piece by piece from his hand. They liked cooked spaghetti (individual strands) and cheese puffs (one at a time). But if he poured out a big pile of either food on the ground, they wouldn’t go near it. In fact, one cheese puff rolled a little distance away from the main pile, and one brave raven carefully sidled up, snatched up the one stray puff, and leaped away to safety.

Another story from the book: One of his adults, no longer confined to the aviary, was flying through the woods nearby and spotted the author’s neighbor’s cat. The cat was carrying a dead mouse back home. The raven landed behind the cat and yanked on his tail, hard. The cat was so startled he dropped his mouse, and just as fast, the raven rushed in and grabbed the mouse and flew away with it! The poor cat stood there looking after the raven, undoubtedly wondering what the hell just happened. The neighbor witnessed the whole thing from her window.