SIDEBAR

An afternoon with Ravens

1 comment
Jan 22 2015

I was looking forward to a nice siesta after a good lunch. With the sun glaring down at 14500+ feet (the setting, incidentally, was Pangong Tso in Ladakh), that seemed to be a wise choice too. As I opened my tent flap, something flew into the campsite accompanied by loud, deep and gruff cawing. I’d been spooked by that call once before a few years ago and I knew I had to bring my camera out.

Northern Raven (Corvus corax tibetanus) - A portrait

Northern Raven (Corvus corax tibetanus) – A portrait

The Northern Raven is the largest species of crow in the world. The bird is huge in size compared to the House Crow. It is, in fact, as large as the Black Kite that is so common within many Indian cities. With its beautiful glossy plumage and neck hackles, it is also a very handsome bird!

Yes, I just said it. A handsome crow! Only a birder can say something like that – or so I’ve been told by many many people over the years. As I was photographing the bird, a thought struck me – can I take advantage of my beautiful location to try and make attractive shots of the bird? Following are some photographs from a 30 minute shoot.

Feeling Blue! The beautiful blue background of the lake adds some colour to the proceedings.

Feeling Blue! The beautiful blue background of the lake adds some colour to the proceedings.

 

More colour to the proceedings, as the Raven walks up to a flag.

More colour to the proceedings, as the Raven walks up to a flag.

 

Some water! (It wasn't clear if the bird was washing its food or just getting a drink)

Some water! (It wasn’t clear if the bird was washing its food or just getting a drink)

 

Yup, that's how long the beak is!

Yes, that’s how long the beak is!

 

A funny expression!

A funny expression!

 

The Poser!

The Poser!

 

Walking out! This is my favourite photograph of the series (even without the catchlight in the eye).

Walking out! I wish the bird had turned its head just that much to show some catchlight.

 

In the end, I didn’t regret missing my siesta at all. And I hope you can now relate to why I think the Raven is handsome.

 

A few more things about the Northern Raven –

  • There are 2 subspecies of the bird in India – the tibetanus subspecies of Ladakh and the subcorax subspecies of North-Western India. The one in Ladakh is the larger and glossier of the two (and of all the subspecies across the world too).
  • An adult bird can weigh as much as 2kg (that’s a lot for a bird).
  • The Northern Raven is the national bird of Bhutan.

 

  1. Deepa Mohan 

    Lovely images as usual, and many facts that I didn’t know about Ravens. Are they always found at high altitudes? I was told that some ravens have learnt to soar like raptors.

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