A few days ago I was treated to a unique experience on Highway 74 at a viewpoint overlooking Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. It was 7:00 am and I had driven up the mountain a bit to enjoy the new snowfall.
The turnout was deserted except for a single large raven who seemed very curious that I had arrived with my camera. He flew over me, I think to impress me with the size of his wingspan, and landed nearby. He looked me right in the eye and started to make some loud clicking noises (almost like he was snapping his beak together) and his head would bob up and down - trying to tell me something. I got very close to this beautiful bird and he seemed to enjoy it, always looking me right in the eye and we spent about 10 minutes communicating with each other. Then he flew up, circled me once, and landed on the parapet to enjoy the view.
He made another series of very loud clicking noises, motioning with his head, inviting me to come closer. Then he kept motioning with his wing as though he wished me to enjoy the view with him!
In the 1960s, neurologist Stanley Cobb found that ravens have among the largest brains of any birds, as well as a relatively high number of brain cells. Natural history author Candace Savage writes:
“Crows, ravens, magpies, and jays are not just feathered machines, rigidly programmed by their genetics. Instead, they are beings that, within the constraints of their molecular inheritance, make complex decisions and show every sign of enjoying a rich awareness.” My friendly raven was definitely enjoying a rich awareness of the beauty of this day, and I'm happy I got to share this experience with him!