Squawking Raven News

Squawking Raven News, Inaugural Edition

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Squawking Raven Newsletter. This area of the Yellowstone Gallery Web Site will provide commentary on a host of issues that focus on newsworthy events in the Yellowstone Landscape. We foresee announcements, the telling of tales, and an airing of "just plain news" together with some occasional editorial content.

Let's begin with "Why the Squawking Raven?" To properly answer that question we should examine the character and myth of this much maligned, much adored bird. Before we look into this, however, I should address my personal fascination with this most mysterious, boisterous clown of the sky.

About thirty years ago I emigrated from the urban confines of New Orleans to the wide-open western vistas of the Rocky Mountains - to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, in fact. Newly employed by the National Park Service, I was a wide-eyed young man eager to explore this rugged wilderness. It was my great fortune to live and work in this magnificent, beautiful, sometimes overpowering place. My first day's labor, shoveling snow from the trails at the rim of the Canyon, literally took my breath away. I recall the deafening silence, save for the howl of the wind, the rush of the river below, and the ever-present chatter, caws, and clucks of a bevy of ravens. aside from my co-workers, the only other living things accompanying us that day were the acrobatic ravens who rode the twisting currents of the vast chasms in a dazzling display of somersaults, dives and turns. All the while they cawed and cawed. We cawed back. They cawed some more. We laughed and, I swear, they laughed too.

Ever since that day the raven has endeared itself to me. It's been my companion on solitary hikes as well as my entertainer. I have marveled at its antics in flight. It's also been a source of inspiration when I observed its obvious intelligence as it deftly unties a judicious knot on a saddlebag to help itself to a traveler's lunch. Most importantly, the raven has helped to secure important lifelong bonds of friendship with my Yellowstone workmates. To this day, all of us now in our 50's and 60's, continue to greet each other with a smile, handshake or hug, and a throaty caw to celebrate our raven brother and sisterhood.

That explains the lure of the raven. But what of its lore? Throughout history the raven has suffered from dark perceptions. It has been considered a bird of ill repute and synonymous with "sinner". Even Shakespeare alludes to the raven as evil in many of his works. Yet, Raven is also held in the highest esteem. There are biblical assertions of ravens feeding holy hermits during times of turmoil and drought. Here in the New World, Native American mythology exalts Raven no less than the creator of sun, moon, earth, and all its inhabitants. Indigenous Americans also regard the Raven as "trickster", a reputation perhaps stemming from its sense of humor and play.

But it is Raven's "song" that concerns us most for the purposes of this newsletter. Bernd Heinrich in his splendid book, Ravens in Winter, says "...the raven is big, black, and beautiful. Its highly glossed plumage shows iridescent greens, blues, and purples, shining like a black dewdrop in the light. And it dives and rolls like a black thunderbolt out of the sky or speeds along with liquid, gliding strokes. The raven is the paragon of the air, and more. It is assumed to be the brains of the bird world, so its deep, sonorous, penetrating voice demands immediate attention and respect, even though we have little or no idea what it says. It has a greater variety of calls than perhaps any other animal in the world except human beings. It is an imposing bird."

And so it is fitting that the Squawking Raven should inherit this mantel and speak its mind. It always has something to say if you care to listen. So please look to this page from time to time and tune into the Squawking Raven for the latest news, anecdotes, and stories of man in nature and our relationship to all of its inhabitants.

Until next time, we leave you with a caw and a cluck and will squawk again at a later date.

Newsletter Archive:

The Latest On Yellowstone's Wolves by Ilona Popper (Oct 2013)
Introducing C. Thomas Hoff, Photographer (Jun 2012)
A New Christmas Tradition (Nov 2011)
"Lookout Tower" and "Waiting For Mom" Two New Carl Brenders Wolf Prints! (Jan 2010)
It's Time for a WAKE UP CALL! (Sep 2009)
Introducing Tah Madsen, Yellowstone Artist (Jan 2009)
Happy New Year Everyone & Good Luck to Barack Obama on Inauguration Day (Dec 2008)
New Nancy Glazier Limited Edition Prints Released! (Apr 2008)
Yellowstone Winterkeepers - A Vanishing Species (Jan 2008)
Steven Fuller, Yellowstone Winterkeeper and Photographer Extraordinaire (Nov 2007)
Historical Yellow Buses Return to Yellowstone National Park's Original North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana (Apr 2007)

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