Flying - Leif Sohlman
Photograph - Photo
Flying bird in Enkoeping. Sweden, 2013.
Cabon 5D mk III
Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs and nutcrackers. The common English names used are corvids (more technically) or the crow family (more informally), and there are over 120 species. The genus Corvus, including the jackdaws, crows and ravens, makes up over a third of the entire family.
They are considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European Magpies) and tool making ability (crows, rooks)�skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than in humans.
They are medium to large in size, with strong feet and bills, rictal bristles and a single moult each year (most passerines moult twice). Corvids are found worldwide except for the tip of South America and the polar ice caps. The majority of the species is found in tropical South and Central America, southern Asia and Eurasia, with fewer than 10 species each in Africa and Australasia. The genus Corvus has re-entered Australia in relatively recent geological prehistory, with five species and one subspecies there.
Folklore often represents corvids as clever, and even mystical, animals. Some Native Americans, such as the Haida, believed that a raven created the earth and despite being a trickster spirit, ravens were popular on totems, credited with creating man, and responsible for placing the Sun in the sky.
Due to their carrion diet, the Celtic peoples strongly associated corvids with war, death and the battlefield - their great intelligence meant that they were often considered messengers, or manifestations of the gods such Bendigeidfran Blessed Raven or the Irish Morrigan, underworld deities that may be related to the later Arthurian Fisher King. The Welsh Dream of Rhonabwy illustrates well the association of Ravens with war. In many parts of Britain, gatherings of crows, or more often magpies, are counted using the divination rhyme: one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told. Cornish superstition holds that when a magpie is encountered, it must be loudly greeted with respect.
Various Germanic peoples highly revered the raven. The major deity Odin was so associated with ravens throughout history that he gained the kenning "raven god" and the raven banner was the flag of various Viking Age Scandinavian chieftains. He was also attended by Hugin and Munin, two ravens who whispered news into his ears. The Valravn sometimes appears in modern Scandinavian folklore. The Sutton Hoo treasure features stylised corvids with scrolled beaks in the decorative enamel work on the shield and purse lid reflecting their common totemic status to the Anglo-Saxons.
The 6th century BC Greek scribe Aesop featured corvids as intelligent antagonists in many fables. Later, in western literature, popularized by American poet Edgar Allan Poe's work "The Raven", the Common Raven becomes a symbol of the main character's
December 31st, 2013
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