Ravens - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Birds - Ravens - Huge black birds - members of the crow family and are about the same size as buzzards.

Ravens are becoming quite common now and can be seen throughout The Isle of Harris, The Isle of Lewis and the Uists.

The raven is black with a large bill and long wings. In flight, it shows a diamond-shaped tail. It breeds in the west and north only

There are also always six ravens (actually at the current time) seven - one spare - which are kept at the Tower of London
Pheasant -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Raven
Family
Crows and allies
Latin name
Corvus corax

 Population
Was Scarce - now Increasing


Similar Species
Carrion Crow
Description

The raven is black with a large bill and long wings. In flight, it shows a diamond-shaped tail. It breeds in the west and north only .Ravens have thick necks with a beard of shaggy throat feathers, and a very powerful looking stout bill.

If you see them close you will see the black feathers have a purplish sheen. The bill and legs are black. Juveniles are like the adults but browner and have paler eyes.

When flying the tail is diamond-shaped, and the wing beat is very slow.

Despite their size they are remarkably agile and perform aerobatic tumbles, dives and even flip upside down, especially in the springtime.


Size
Body length: 64 cm (25") Wingspan: 120-150 cm (47-59"), Weight: 0.8-1.5 kg (1¾-3¼ lb)
Habitat
These large raptors prefer mountainous, often treeless, habitats, although they require large trees or rock faces for nesting.

Food
The Raven feeds on the ground, feeding on a diverse diet - carrion, mammals, birds and their eggs and insects. Like many of the crows, they store food when it is in ample supply in readiness for leaner times.
Voice
In flight the ravens have a repeated deep 'krok' 'ktoa' or 'kark' - its song is a soft, ventriloquial chattering, with mimicry.

Breeding
Ravens breed in mountainous regions as well as on the coast and in forests. The nest is usually on a sheltered ledge or in the fork of a tree, and is built by both birds from large twigs, earth, and moss. The cup is lined with grass, moss, wool and hair.

The eggs are glossy, light blue with irregular dark brown markings. The female alone incubates the eggs, but the male brings her food. After fledging, the young birds remain dependent on their parents for 3 to 4 weeks but they often stay together for much longer

.Ravens form bonding pairs that mate for life. They are excellent parents, both equally responsible for the rearing of their offspring.

Misc. Info
In the past Ravens were persecuted by farmers and gamekeepers, and then more recently they have suffered from the effects of pesticides. Their population is declining severely in Scotland and the increases in England, Wales and Ireland do not compensate for these losses.

Edgar Allen Poe (1845) wrote a poem about a raven - which has since become very famous. ( see below).



There are also always six ravens (actually at the current time) seven - one spare - which are kept at the Tower of London. Unusually for birds of ill omen, the future of both Country and Kingdom relies upon their continued residence, for according to legend, at least six ravens must remain lest both Tower and Monarchy fall.

The Raven Master is a Yeoman Warder or 'Beefeater' dedicated to caring for the Tower's Ravens. To prevent the birds flying away one of their wings is clipped by the Raven Master. This does not hurt the raven nor does it harm them in any way. By unbalancing their flight it ensures that they don't stray too far from the Tower. Raven is associated with joy and laughter



Poem by Edgar Allen Poe (1845)


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;--
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door;--
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"--
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore--
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;--
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door--
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door--
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door--
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered--not a feather then he fluttered--
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before--
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never--nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust, and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee,--by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite,--respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil--prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted--nevermore!

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