RAVENS WINTER

RAVENS WINTERambience: ravensTo the Indians of the Pacific northwest, Raven was the creator of the universe. To other tribes though, he was a trickster and a thief. Well, this winter in Alaska, ravens can be seen living up to the darker side of their reputation. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.We’re outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, near a raven roost. The roosting spot, usually a spruce tree on the outskirts of town, offers seclusion and protection during the winter nights for these scavengers. They spend their days foraging through Fairbanks’s dumpsters and landfills, and occasionally enjoying a roadkill. But ravens can only forage while it’s light, and in the Alaskan winter, the days are only a few hours long. According to Doug Schamel at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, to find food ravens often resort to the trickery that made them famous. A favorite ploy of the bird’s is to gang up and steal food from dog sled teams. One raven runs interference, by walking around the dogs just out of the reach of their snapping jaws, while another bird helps itself to their food. The dogs eventually catch on, but the ravens have other schemes to turn to. They’ve figured out a way to nab baby ground squirrels. While a mother squirrel and her young are out and about, a raven will land in their burrow. The mother lets out a warning cry, and the babies automatic response is to run for home, where a hungry raven is waiting for them.It may come as no surprise then that many cultures see the raven as an omen of bad times to come. But the Hudson Bay Eskimos tell a story with a positive twist in it. They say that Raven used to go around loudly warning people when they moved their camp, not to leave behind their deer-skin blanket, which is called a kak. To this day, Ravens still fly about calling out, kak, kak, kak!I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

RAVENS WINTER

Through trickery and ingenuity, ravens are surviving the winter in Alaska
Air Date:01/27/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

RAVENS WINTERambience: ravensTo the Indians of the Pacific northwest, Raven was the creator of the universe. To other tribes though, he was a trickster and a thief. Well, this winter in Alaska, ravens can be seen living up to the darker side of their reputation. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.We're outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, near a raven roost. The roosting spot, usually a spruce tree on the outskirts of town, offers seclusion and protection during the winter nights for these scavengers. They spend their days foraging through Fairbanks's dumpsters and landfills, and occasionally enjoying a roadkill. But ravens can only forage while it's light, and in the Alaskan winter, the days are only a few hours long. According to Doug Schamel at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, to find food ravens often resort to the trickery that made them famous. A favorite ploy of the bird's is to gang up and steal food from dog sled teams. One raven runs interference, by walking around the dogs just out of the reach of their snapping jaws, while another bird helps itself to their food. The dogs eventually catch on, but the ravens have other schemes to turn to. They've figured out a way to nab baby ground squirrels. While a mother squirrel and her young are out and about, a raven will land in their burrow. The mother lets out a warning cry, and the babies automatic response is to run for home, where a hungry raven is waiting for them.It may come as no surprise then that many cultures see the raven as an omen of bad times to come. But the Hudson Bay Eskimos tell a story with a positive twist in it. They say that Raven used to go around loudly warning people when they moved their camp, not to leave behind their deer-skin blanket, which is called a kak. To this day, Ravens still fly about calling out, kak, kak, kak!I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.