Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Raven Kiss

Seward, Alaska

It's usually quite difficult to spy on COMMON RAVENS, much less get photos. They are wary and private, and do not tolerate paparazzi spying on their personal lives. By happy circumstance, while studying the raucous gulls at the NE Beach fish cleaning station, I found a family of oblivious RAVENS parading along the beach. The three youngsters looked disheveled, their feathers stained with fish oil from the delectable feast thrown into the fish bin by the fishermen. But raven teenagers always look unkempt, losing and gaining feathers like a human teenager outgrows baggy jeans and shoes, so this was normal.

The mom was also a mess, her feathers in disarray and likewise streaked with fish oil. I could almost see her pink foam hair curlers sliding off, her wrinkled and worn house dress, and her shabby slippers, exhausted from a busy day minding the kids and rustling up dinner. The dad, in contrast, was magnificent, glossy and iridescent, impeccably attired with impressive shaggy throat feathers. He looked like a VIP, possibly the CEO of the boat harbor.

The pair ignored their children while they shared a few tender moments together. The dad, a perfect, gallant gentleman, saw only the beautiful bride and mother of his handsome family. After a little bowing and horn display (the female's are smaller and shorter), they tenderly exchanged a raven kiss where the female gently grasped the male's beak in hers. These are powerful tools that can rip branches off a tree, so it was quite an act of trust. Their sky blue nictitating membranes flashed across their black eyes from back to front. Afterwards, they both burst into a cascade of croaking and celebration followed by more respectful bowing to each other.

Unfortunately, my DSLR camera makes quite a racket as the mirror slaps up and down. The amorous pair paused and glanced in my direction several times. Finally, with great dignity, the stars walked off stage, side by side, little hearts zipping between them.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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