Ravens, large birds with entirely black plumage, are an incredibly enigmatic species of nature. An acrobatic flyer spotted rolling around, swooping rapidly and somersaulting in the sky, the ungainly birds are smart, cunning, and joyful birds at the same time.
Empowered with ingenuity, the ghastly ravens can adapt well to an array of habitats, prevalent around the forests, woodlands, tundra’s, and urban landscapes. In addition, the Ravens rank as one of the most intelligent species, figuring out problems and inquisitive to learn new skills.
Unfortunately, these sharp birds have an evil reputation among many cultures and mythologies but tend to be one of the sharpest, loving, and indulgent birds.
Covered in jet-black feathers, ravens are a mysteriously interesting species of birds, having high levels of intelligence and taking up a buoyant and graceful flight. But, perhaps due to their absurd appearance, the birds are considered evil and harsh, and hence, referred to as an ‘Unkindness’ together in a group.
Wondering what a group of ravens is called? The ghastly, jet-black birds, entirely covered in black from head to tail, do not seem to have an esteemed reputation. This can be truly understood from the fact that a group of ravens is referred to as ‘unkindness’.
What is so unkind in ravens that they are collectively referred to as so?
Well, their name tends to be associated primarily with their personality. Belonging to the corvid family, these birds are also given an abhorrent name, similar to the crows.
Considered an evil in disguise, ravens are often maligned with negative connotations due to the many reasons associated with the bird’s demeanor.
How did the term originate in the first place?
There are several speculations regarding this matter. With ravens tending to have a symbolic association with witches, dark omens, and death, they are often viewed in a dishonored light.
They are considered to be a source of bad luck, especially because they tend to surround themselves with dead things. After all, these fierce-looking creatures are active scavengers and would congregate around any carcasses found in the open to feed on it.
There have also been reports of these creatures being quite unkind to even their young. We don’t know whether it’s true, but ravens have been known to dismiss their young out into the world even when they’re not yet capable of fending themselves.
Not to forget, these ‘unkind’ birds also have a reputation of chiseling around with other birds, and even amongst themselves. In fact, they are known to hide their food and often mimic other creatures around them.
Traditionally considered to be creepy, the large black birds with their eyes incessantly seeming to watch and follow you all along, their behavioral instincts have gained them a reputation of being unkind.
Typically having a bad reputation among humans, the names given to a group of ravens by humans are not too pleasant.
Despite being portrayed in a dark light, ravens are actually fascinating creatures. These mysterious birds are the smartest and most intelligent bird species known. There’s a lot more to ravens than the old folklore that symbolizes ravens as a sign of death or impending doom.
Read the post further as we shed some light on some amazing facts about the ravenous ravens.
Belonging to the corvid family of birds, the raven’s extraordinary smartness is well understood. Considerably large birds compared to an average bird, the gaunt ravens have an impressive brain-to-body ratio.
In fact, they are parallel to chimpanzees and dolphins in terms of animal intelligence. These brainy birds are known to use tools for their own ease, plan for the future and resolve issues among themselves - something which is extremely peculiar among the animals.
There have also been accounts of ravens throwing rocks on people to bar them from approaching their nests and even pretending to be dead beside the carcass of a beaver to scare away other ravens who are awaiting to enjoy the feast. But, again, their astounding smartness cannot be underestimated.
Adept experts at locating foods, ravens delve into a wide array of treats. Typically, a carnivore species, it feeds on insects, lizards, frogs, caterpillars, rodents, among the many creatures. In addition, these excellent scavengers frequently feast on the carcasses and garbage.
Known for their sharp wit and cunningness, ravens would often hide their food from other animals. They wouldn’t even share it with fellow ravens. In doing so, the intelligent bird pretends to hide the food in one place, while in actuality, caches it at another spot.
But after all, the other ravens are equally smart, so they would end up finding the food most of the time.
They can speak better than most parrots can. Closely imitating the human speech, and that of other birds too, ravens can do it really well. These black, mystical birds have a huge repertoire, exceeding 100 different vocalizations.
More so, these brilliant birds can mimic sounds in their environment, from the bus horns to the car engines and toilet flushing with their deep voices.
Also, replicating the sounds of birds and other animals, ravens can successfully attract voracious predators like the wolves and foxes to the carrion that they cannot rip apart. Once the wolf relishes the delectable treat, the raven lands down to dine in on the leftover, soft innards.
Though despicable in appearance with considerable spite towards them, ravens are mischievous birds that love to play around.
Frolicking around, ravens have been observed playing in the snow, using snow-covered roofs and snowy hills as slides, rolling down them. Ravens are also known to make use of objects to make toys for themselves - yes, that’s not too common among animals.
The black creature would pick up sticks, pinecones, balls, and rocks to play amongst themselves. A thrilling game for them is to keep away, playing with other animals such as wolves and dogs.
Having a prankish nature, ravens often taunt, mock, and even mimic other creatures just because it amuses them.
The masterful acrobats would also entertain themselves in midair. From surfing updrafts to flying upside down, watching the ravens in the sky can be thrilling.
Generally moving around in pairs, the seemingly appalling birds take together joy flights, tumbling and soaring in midair and even turning somersaults.
Young ravens enjoy throwing the sticks from the heights and then rapidly swooping down to catch them before hitting the ground.
An impressive trait not found in most birds is the ability to recognize faces. However, the incredibly smart ravens have an adept memory, and that’s something humans and primates are capable of.
This astounding ability allows them to remember human faces and their behavior towards them. Naturally, therefore, any unpleasant encounter with the ravens can have adverse consequences.
You cheated with the ravens or were harsh towards them? Ravens wouldn’t like you now. In fact, they are known to hold grudges with anyone they have had a rough experience with for up to one month.
Doesn’t it sound too birdy? But that’s the case with ravens. They are capable of making very clear, non-vocal signals to communicate amongst themselves.
Using their beaks - just the way we use our fingers - ravens point out an object to another raven out there. They would also hold up objects that interest them with their beaks, a common mating ritual the male uses to lure a female.
Making use of your amazing gestures, ravens have been escalated to a high level of communication that hardly any other birds are capable of.
When young ravens are out of the fledgling stage, they leave their parents and join what is called raven gangs. Until they reach adulthood, these young ravens live together, feeding and flying collectively. These gregarious birds tend to prefer companionship rather than staying isolated.
As soon as they reach adulthood, they find a mate for themselves. They would typically form a lifelong pair and fly away.
In addition, what’s surprising is that living in large gangs isn’t quite a pleasant experience for the ravens. Quite high levels of stress hormones have been found in the droppings of teenage hormones compared to the mated adults.
Does it sound relatable? While joining a gang is the biggest nightmare for the moms, it is no less stressful for the youngster to be a teenage rebel.
The mysterious black bird not only has a conspicuously bold appearance, but its hoarse croaks and raspy caws absolutely resonate with its personality.
Such loud are the calls that they can be heard over a mile away, echoing throughout the forest and woodlands. Sometimes even lasting for longer than a minute, this extensive period of coarse calls aids other members of the ‘unkindness’ to locate where the raven is.
Ornithologists have discovered that the calls of ravens are actually an expression of triumph and power. Making such boisterous cries, the bird signifies its dominance and superiority, and sometimes victory over other animals.
Covered in jet-black feathers all over, ravens are enigmatic birds that are known not just for their intelligence but also their ability to adapt to an array of habitats. Inhabiting the forests to mountains to deserts to snowy regions and even the coastlines, ravens are ubiquitous throughout.
Feeding on a variety of species is a surplus for these birds since their food is readily available everywhere. From foraging on the grains, seeds, and fruits to hunting insects, fish, and reptiles and scavenging on garbage and carrions, they seldom face a dearth of food.
A large, grotesque bird, the raven is not an uncommon sight. Usually found in pairs rather than massive flocks, they are pretty prevalent. Found in the forests and woodlands worldwide, they are not a rarity in the urban towns and farmlands.
Ravens are found on every continent of the world, except Antarctica. Consequently, their population is widespread in Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe.
An extremely rare scenario, sometimes a white raven might be spotted. Their entire plumage is white - quite polar to the jet-black ravens. Strange right?
The white ravens are born with a rare genetic disorder known as leucism. Birds affected by this condition lack the carotenoid pigment, which gives the birds its color.
The absence of the carotenoid pigment gives the birds its fair white feathers, and sometimes, even blue eyes.
Qualicum Beach in Canada is known to inhabit a small population of rare white ravens. Research indicates that two white ravens formed a pair a few years ago and have since given birth to several analogous offspring.
However, these refined birds don’t tend to live as long as their black counterparts and very rarely are able to breed and find a mate.
Ravens have always been seen negatively due to their mischievous personality, ravenous dietary habits, and abhorrent appearance.
But, in reality, ravens are empathic birds that would console their fellow mate if he loses a fight. They would treat birds that have been considerate towards them in a friendly way.
But, they can be equally hostile at the same time. Research has shown that ravens can identify a cheater amongst themselves.
At times of feast, when the ravens would delve into the food, each individual ensures to get an equal share of food. But if another raven tries to grab more food, then he loses the trust of his fellow mates, who refuse to cooperate with him in the future again.
This bird is consequently avoided by other members who consider it to be untrustworthy.
Since the immemorial times, ravens have been viewed as malignant, typically being associated with bad luck, bad omens, and death. It seems like some sort of darkness always surrounds the ungainly bird.
Cultures around the globe have attached ghastly negative connotations to the grim bird. Considering them to be evil, hostile, and atrocious, sighting the black bird was seen as a sign of misfortune or impending doom.
Each culture has varied beliefs regarding the bird. For example, in France, the ravens were thought to signify the souls of the wicked priest, while in Germany, these dark creatures were considered the incarnation of cursed souls and even satan himself.
People in Denmark believe ravens to be exorcised souls, while Swedish contemplate ravens grouching at night to be the souls of murdered people who were unable to receive proper burials according to the Christian tradition.
Typically, the male and female ravens are known to pair for life, forming monogamous bonds. Choosing one another heedfully, the birds stay together until death separates them.
Traits of romance, commitment, and affection might sound weird for ravens, but these grim birds are, in reality, quite loving amongst themselves.
Throughout the year, the unanimous pair would soar in the sky, hitching together from wingtip to wingtip and swooping down simultaneously.
To attract his mate, the male would even display his elaborate prance and bring various foods as presents for the female raven. During courtship, the two birds would perch together side by side, gently preening and snuggling each other’s feathers and caressing their beaks as they make warbling sounds.
The current population of ravens across the globe stands at approximately 16 million birds, and it seems to elevate even more constantly.
North America, in particular, has witnessed a stark and dramatic rise in these dynamic black creatures.
Enjoying the least concern conservation status, the mysterious ravens are among the few birds who are constantly expanding their range.
The increase in their numbers can be due to augmented access to the standing water in cattle farms, abundant supply of perches on buildings, bridges, and other manmade structures.
And obviously, the food supply of ravens tends to be plentiful, even from the garbage and carrions of roadkill.
So now we know that a group of ravens has a peculiar term – ‘Unkindness’. They are called so for numerous reasons; the mysterious ravens tend to be seen in a dark light – being symbolized as signs of evil, misfortune, and death.
It is not just their ghastly appearance that makes these creatures intimidating, but also their bold behavior. But these birds are, in reality, an impressive creation of nature. Possessing the highest levels of intelligence, they are one of the most intelligent birds and incredibly sharp problem solvers.
Though they might not seem so, but ravens are a pretty loving and empathic species, which is evident by the lifelong bonds they form.
If you believe this post did a world of good to your knowledge about ravens, we recommend you read this post identifying size differences between ravens and crows.
My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!
You may also like: