One of the most familiar sights in Catalina Island’s skies are the coal-black shapes of common ravens. Avalon is home to both ravens and crows, but the crows are recent immigrants. Pairs of ravens have played in the thermals above Catalina Island’s hills for generations. Ravens are distinguished from their smaller crow cousins not only by size, but also by their distinctive kwark calls and the fact that they form pairs rather than flocks.
Widely regarded as the smartest of birds, ravens are renowned for their problem-solving skills. These birds are opportunistic feeders, as likely to raid other bird’s nests as they are to raid human trash cans. Ravens have exceptional flying skills and often seem to play in the thermals above Avalon, soaring, tumbling and chasing one another.
Ravens are found throughout western and northern North America and have most likely been living on the island for hundreds of years. They live about 15 years and tend to mate for life, raising a clutch of chicks each year. Fearless and feisty, they will tease and torment much larger birds, including hawks and bald eagles.