Fun with the Common Raven!

What this bird means to me!

I personally love Halloween; a nice brisk fall evening filled with candy, fun costumes and a spooky atmosphere, how could you not enjoy it! Looking past the insane amounts of delicious and sugary snacks as well as running around neighborhoods yelling “Trick or Treat!” another fun tradition that I like to take part in is scary stories. Werewolves, vampires, witches; monstrous creatures and mythological beings, these are all fantastical and fictional organisms that go hand in hand with Halloween. Causing unease and fear they are the epitome of spooky and often the main focal points of scary stories. Although they are often fictitious, scary stories do not always incorporate “make believe” creatures into their plots, sometimes the “harbinger of fear” or “the monster in the shadows” is a real organism that can be found in nature all around the world.

This semester in Organismal Biology the theme for our webpage was spooky or Halloween related. Having a large affinity for scary stories, I knew exactly which organism I wanted to study, the common raven. I am very much intrigued by Edgar Allen Poe’s dark and extremely well known poem The Raven. It is a piece of classic American literature; spooky, ominous and frightening the story makes the common raven, in my mind, a very scary organism.

"And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor              
                            Shall be lifted- nevermore!"

-Edgar Allan Poe

Check out Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven!

The common raven in Mythology!

Corvus corax has long been associated with the folklore and mythologies of many cultures.

In the American North West, the common raven is revered as a deity. Many Native American tribes believe this bird to be the creator of both the heavens and the earth. Along with being a deity, the common raven is often seen as a trickster and cheater.

Click Here to see a video of a Native American Raven Dance!

Throughout Europe, the common raven has differing historical and cultural importance. Ravens are seen in Scandinavian cultures as the pets of the god Odin. They were called Huginn who represents Thought, and Muninn who is Memory.

Within Celtic lore, the common raven was often associated with important goddesses as well as a connection to the "Otherworld". This association was made because the common raven was often seen flying over battlefields and eating carrion.

Within Irish and Welsh lore, the common raven is seen in close association with prophecies as well druids!

Click Here to learn more about the common raven in association with druids!

The common raven can also be seen in Greek and Roman culture. Within Greek culture, the common raven is in at least one story associated with Apollo. Apollo used a white raven to watch over Coronis and his yet to be born child. Failing in this task, the raven was turned black by Apollo as a consequence (Fleming 1998).

Go to to learn more about the common raven in world cultures!

The common Raven in modern culture!

Corvus corax is the name of a band!

Click Here to listen to some music from this German band!

Football team

Click Here to see the Baltimore Ravens football team!




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