The raven is the largest member of the crow family as well as the largest perching bird in the world. It is often considered a bad omen by many: death, darkness, and war; however, there is much more to this mysterious and intelligent bird. Much has been written about the raven. Here are just a few of the beliefs about this bird.
In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy. They are said to be a symbol of good luck, and were Apollo’s messengers in the mortal world. It is said that Apollo sent a white raven to spy on his lover Coronis. When the raven returned with news that she had been unfaithful, Apollo scorched the raven in his fury, turning the bird’s feathers black. That’s why all ravens are black.
Norse mythology depicts Odin having two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, serving as his eyes and ears – Huginn referred to as thought and Muninn as memory. Each day the ravens would fly out from the throne and return with news of the kingdom.
The raven is an important figure in most Native American cultures. It is seen as the creator of light and as a trickster figure. It is believed that the raven brought light to a world that had been in total darkness. As a trickster figure, the raven is seen as a catalyst of mischief and mayhem.
Some believe that if a raven is facing the direction of a clouded sun that foretells hotter weather. A preening raven indicates rain is on the way.
The Trumpeter Swan is the largest waterfowl species native to North America.
By 1900, it was widely speculated the species had been hunted to extinction for its feathers, skin, meat and eggs. Fortunately, a small nonmigratory population survived in the remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
In the early 1950’s a large population were found in Alaska and today their numbers are estimated at close to 16,000.
A group of swans has many collective nouns including a “ballet”, “bevy”, “drift”, “regatta” and “school” of swans. A juvenile in its first year is called a cygnet.
These swans often mate for life. Most pair bonds are formed when the swans are 4 to 7 years old although some bonds do not form until they are 20 years old. “Divorces” have been known between birds. Occasionally, if his mate dies a male may not pair again for the rest of his life.
All of the Trumpeter Swans pictured in this Blog were taken in Yellowstone National Park on the Madison, Firehole, and Yellowstone Rivers as well as the marshes on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There is one Trumpeter I photographed on more than one occasion swimming in The Firehole River that has no mate. I leave it to your imagination as to the reason – “Divorce”, “Death of a Mate”, or “Just not Old Enough”.
Each fall many North American Birds leave their summer nesting grounds and fill the sky headed to Texas and the tropics for the winter. Some of these feathered friends travel great distances, for example, the Ruddy Turnstone migrates from Alaska and islands inside the Arctic Circle to the sub tropics, stopping in Texas for rest and recuperation. The famous Whooping Crane comes from Woods Buffalo Hole in Canada to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport, Texas.
These ten photographs are examples of some of the thousands of birds that migrate each year.