RANTING AND RAVEN
As well as being the largest members of the crow family, ravens are traditionally said to have the power to signal the fall of the United Kingdom, if they were ever leave the Tower of London. They’re like the bird equivalent of the SNP.
Like a lot of birds, ravens also mate for life—but long before all that married bliss, just like us humans they enjoy a prolonged period of adolescent rebellion.
In 2011, a study of ravens in the forests of Poland found that, before pairing up, younger birds like to hang around in huge flocks of as many as 200–300 individual birds, who all eat together, roost together, and just generally like to hang out on street corners and all that kinda thing, y’know, whatever.
But there’s strength in numbers, of course, and these teenage gangs of prepubescent birds have become so sizeable and so powerful that culls have even been proposed as a means of holding the marauding corvids at bay, and to stop them from harassing local livestock.
Being a raven: nothing to crow about (Pixabay)
But for all their shows of strength, there’s more going on in these enormous marauding flocks than meets the eye: the same Polish study found that the droppings of these teenage rebels contained more stress hormones than those of older lifelong-mated ravens who are in the avian equivalent of a longterm relationship.
Being a teenager is hard, it seems, no matter what species you are.