Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
Oct 1st, 2016                                                                                              Volume 10.16
Nature News

High Desert Bird of the Month
Raven
 
BOM:  Common Raven
Scientific name:  Corvus corax 

How to identifyCommon Ravens are entirely black, right down to the legs, eyes, and beak. Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails. They're more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner "fingers" at the wingtips.
 
Habitat:  Common Ravens live in open and forest habitats across western and northern North America. This includes deciduous and evergreen forests up to treeline, as well as high desert, sea coast, sagebrush, tundra, and grasslands. They do well around people, particularly rural settlements but also some towns and cities.
 
Where to find one: Common Ravens aren't as social as crows; you tend to see them alone or in pairs except at food sources like landfills. Ravens are confident, inquisitive birds that strut around or occasionally bound forward with light, two-footed hops. In flight they are buoyant and graceful, interspersing soaring, gliding, and slow flaps.
 
How to attract one to your yard:  You can attract ravens to your yard by leaving out large amounts of seed, grain, or pet food, or simply by not putting the top securely on your garbage can. These tactics might cause more trouble than they're worth, though, attracting rodents and other pest animals or luring in ravens that may then raid nests in your yard.
Interesting fact:  People the world over sense a certain kind of personality in ravens. Edgar Allan Poe clearly found them a little creepy. The captive ravens at the Tower of London are beloved and perhaps a little feared: legend has it that if they ever leave the tower, the British Empire will crumble. Native people of the Pacific Northwest regard the raven as an incurable trickster, bringing fire to people by stealing it from the sun, and stealing salmon only to drop them in rivers all over the world.

For more information on Ravens, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations:  1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks. 
 
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks
 

Go to the WBU site for more Bird of the Month newsletters & articles. 
No Mess Plus Seed Blend is back! 
 Just in time for cooler temps!

Perfect blend for prepping birds winter!  No-Mess Plus Blend features medium sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, chopped tree nuts, suet nuggets, cherries, cranberries and calcium carbonate creating a 100% edible blend to meet your birds' needs with seeds, fats and fruits.


Watch the video for more information about this great seed blend.

Fun Facts About Ravens 

1. RAVENS ARE ONE OF THE SMARTEST ANIMALS.

When it comes to intelligence, these birds rate up there with chimpanzees and dolphins. In one logic test, the raven had to get a hanging piece of food by pulling up a bit of the string, anchoring it with its claw, and repeating until the food was in reach. Many ravens got the food on the first try, some within 30 seconds. In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen's line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast.
If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes.

2. RAVENS CAN IMITATE HUMAN SPEECH.

In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots. They also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and birdcalls. Ravens have been known to imitate wolves or foxes to attract them to carcasses that the raven isn't capable of breaking open. When the wolf is done eating, the raven gets the leftovers.

3. EUROPEANS OFTEN SAW RAVENS AS EVIL IN DISGUISE.

Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil in the flesh ... er, feather. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn't have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you'd better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird's wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

4. RAVENS HAVE BEEN FEATURED IN MANY MYTHS.

Cultures from Tibet to Greece have seen the raven as a messenger for the gods. Celtic goddesses of warfare often took the form of ravens during battles. The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw. The Chinese said ravens caused bad weather in the forests to warn people that the gods were going to pass by. And some Native American tribes worshipped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

5. RAVENS ARE EXTREMELY PLAYFUL.

The Native Americans weren't far off about the raven's mischievous nature. They have been observed in Alaska and Canada using snow-covered roofs as slides. In Maine, they have been seen rolling down snowy hills. They often play keep-away with other animals like wolves, otters, and dogs. Ravens even make toys-a rare animal behavior-by using sticks, pinecones, golf balls, or rocks to play with each other or by themselves. And sometimes they just taunt or mock other creatures because it's funny.

6. RAVENS DO WEIRD THINGS WITH ANTS.

They lie in anthills and roll around so the ants swarm on them, or they chew the ants up and rub their guts on their feathers. The scientific name for this is called "anting." Songbirds, crows, and jays do it too. The behavior is not well understood; theories range from the ants acting as an insecticide and fungicide for the bird to ant secretion soothing a molting bird's skin to the whole performance being a mild addiction. One thing seems clear, though: anting feels great if you're a bird.

7. RAVENS USE "HAND" GESTURES.

It turns out that ravens make "very sophisticated nonvocal signals," according to researchers. In other words, they gesture to communicate. A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers. They also hold up an object to get another bird's attention. This is the first time researchers have observed naturally occurring gestures in any animal other than primates.

8. RAVENS ARE ADAPTABLE.

Evolutionarily speaking, the deck is stacked in the raven's favor. They can live in a variety of habitats, from snow to desert to mountains to forests. They are scavengers with a huge diet that includes fish, meat, seeds, fruit, carrion, and garbage. They are not above tricking animals out of their food-one raven will distract the other animal, for example, and the other will steal its food. They have few predators and live a long time: 17 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

9. RAVENS SHOW EMPATHY FOR EACH OTHER.

Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven's friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. (They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens.) Althougha flock of ravens is called an "unkindness," the birds appear to be anything but.

10. RAVENS ROAM AROUND IN TEENAGE GANGS.

Ravens mate for life and live in pairs in a fixed territory. When their children reach adolescence, they leave home and join gangs, like every human mother's worst nightmare. These flocks of young birds live and eat together until they mate and pair off. Interestingly, living among teenagers seems to be stressful for the raven. Scientists have found higher levels of stress hormones in teenage raven droppings than in the droppings of mated adults. It's never easy being a teenage rebel.
How Cool Is That?
Seasonally Savvy: Caching 
September to December is peak caching time with up to 200 feeder visits per bird per day. Prepare for fall caching by offering blends with sunflower seeds, chips, peanuts, tree nuts and more. A consistent food source helps birds reduce stress and maintain a healthy body condition in the coming harsh weather. 
Chickadees - Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds; often eating a small portion before hiding it in or under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles or in the ground. They like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders; within your yard or a neighbor's yard. Sunflower seeds mimic many tree and flower seeds. 
Nuthatches - Nuthatches prefer heavier sun- flower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sun- flower chips in your blend as they like these 25% more often than ones in the shell. Nuthatches prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. They are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding. 
Jays - Jays love to cache peanuts; especially peanuts in the shell. These mimic acorns and pine nuts. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day; emptying a feeder in no time. Watch them make repeated trips to your feeders and fly off. Try counting how many small seeds they can stuff into their crop before flying off to cache them. Some have stuffed up to 100 sun- flower seeds in one sitting. They can travel up to a few miles away to bury their nutritious treasure.
Upcoming Events
 
Lahontan Audubon Society

Saturday, October 1
7:30am
 Field Trip - Silver Saddle Ranch Annual Bird Walk
10:00am
 Leave No Trace Awareness Day
Tuesday, October 4
6:30pm
 LAS Board Meeting
Sunday, October 16
8:30am
 Field Trip - Taylor Creek
Tuesday, October 18
4:00pm
 Birds & Books Reading Group
Sunday, October 23
8:00am
 TINS Field Trip - Who Eats Red Fish?
Tuesday, October 25
6:30pm
 
Program Meeting: Steve Jenkins-The Magic Migration by Monarch Butterflies

Animal Ark
October 15 @ 10:15 am - 2:30 pm
As part of our behavioral enrichment program, most of the animals will receive pumpkins filled with their favorite treats. Watch the enjoyment experienced by our predators when presented with these unique and delicious meals. Throughout the day, pumpkins will be delivered to different animals. Come spend the day; bring the camcorder.....this is animal viewing at its finest!  Event prices: Adults...
October 22 @ 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Reservations required due to limited seating. RSVP at 1-775-970-3431 This is the last Cheetah Run of the season! Reward yourself with an incredible experience: Watch these magnificent cats running with extraordinary speed, off-leash, across the desert in pursuit of an enticing lure. Event prices: Adults $40; Seniors $35; Children (8-16 years old) $30. Children must be at least 8 years...
Nature Happenings
* October is the best month to start watching for rare northern ducks and loons on the Front Range.

* In the past, Mourning Doves were fall migrants. But due to an ever warmer climate, increased winter cover in suburban backyards and availability of wider range of food, they are seen in communal flocks through out the winter.

* All members of the dove family favor ground feeders, seed blocks and flat trays of millet and cracked corn.

* The first storms of winter usher in winter migrants which often seek shelter in the cover of backyards.

* Many members of the sparrow family (White-crowned, Golden Crowned, Song and Lincoln's) join the ubiquitous House Sparrow at ground feeders.

* Sparrows can be seen scratching for fallen seeds in fading gardens.

* Leave spent perennials standing to provide cover and much needed food for our winter visitors.

* Orionids meteor shower is late-October.

* This is the month to install and repair nest boxes for use next year.

* Waterfowl migration continues to build throughout month.

* Peak of raptor and hawk migration.

* Nest boxes need to be cleaned out this month to prepare for winter roosting.

* First juncos can appear late in the month.

* Sandhill Cranes migrate.

* Remaining hummingbirds will depart this month.

* Beavers are very active in the evenings while caching a winter supply of food.

* Autumn colors peak in October.

* Brown and Brook Trout spawn.
Celebrating 10 years in Reno, NV! 
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509