[Tweeters] Interesting Raven behavior

Rob Sandelin nwnature1 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 7 22:16:52 PST 2010


I moved a bunch of wood today from my woodshed in back of my house. I was
going back and forth from the woodpile to the house and a raven flew into a
tree and sat watching me with considerable interest. Ravens are not common
and not sure what to expect, I kept an eye on it as I went back and forth
moving wood to the house. As I pulled the last layer of wood from a stack,
a deer mouse bolted out and zipped under a piece of junk plywood about 10
feet away. The raven perked up and had obviously seen the rodent but my
presence was deterring it so I walked back to the house and got my bins.

>From my deck I could see the raven and the board with the mouse under it

quite clearly. The raven flew down next to the board and cocked its head as
if to hear the rodent, then it hopped over to the woodpile and picked up a
kindling shard. It flew up into the air and dropped the kindling piece
onto the board! It then sort of hovered overhead, no doubt hoping that the
noise of the dropping wood would spook the mouse into the open. That did
not work but what happened next was unbelievable. The plywood was lying on
a tree branch on the ground with part of the board about 3 inches off the
ground. The raven landed on the plywood edge and the weight of the bird
caused the plywood to move a bit. The Raven then began hopping around,
causing the plywood to bounce a bit up and down. I did not see the mouse
exit from under the plywood but the Raven did, and flew/hopped and pounced
and then flew away with the mouse in its talons. I was left wondering if
the raven landed on the board and discovered it was unstable, or if the
something about dropping the kindling piece on it alerted it, or the bird
figured out that the plywood was movable, or it was all just a remarkable
lucky coincidence that the bird took advantage of it. Either way, it was a
very impressive lesson on how to catch a mouse, and the fact that it tried
two different strategies. Pretty damn clever.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer, Teacher
Snohomish County
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