|David Brown's Wildlife Services
12 Hotel Road
Warwick, MA 01378
Tel 978 544 8175
|"Tracking is seeing. Seeing is done with the mind."
Tracking Problem: Predator and prey.
Bird of the Month: Common Raven
Most trackers have seen one version or another of this scene. The photo was taken in central
Massachusetts on about 8" of granular snow in the interior of a woodland. The depth of the two
marks in the center was about 3". The width of the entire bird print was about 40 inches.
- In which direction was the predator headed?
- Was the predator a hawk or an owl? What three pieces of evidence show this?
- Name the predator down to species level.
- Name the prey down to family level.
Only a few decades ago this
bird was considered "rare and
local in the Appalachians." Today
it has spread far from its mountain
strongholds and is even showing
up occasionally in eastern cities.
Although similar to the smaller
common crow, it is distinguishable
by its rounded or wedge-shaped
tail to the crow's squared tail, and
by the proportionately longer
beak. The technical name for the
crow is "corvus bracherynchos" or
short billed raven.
Ravens are easily the smartest birds in the animal kingdom, with an intricate social life and, being
omnivorous, plenty of time to fool around. Their flight displays at fall hawk-watch sites often divert the
observers to watch the sheer joy of their flying skills. The wise tracker in the woods pays attention to
their vocalizations as they often lead to a dead animal that has attracted these and other scavengers.