Birds have already been celebrating the valentine’s day

There has been a stir since the beginning of January in the bird’s world. Despite freeze and snow, animals have started the breeding season.
29.07.2017 | Paulina Król, Hajnówka Forest District

There has been a stir since the beginning of January in the bird’s world. Despite freeze and snow, animals have started the breeding season.

One of the first species to start their advances are ravens (Corvus corax). These huge, omnivore and mystical birds have already began theirextremely spectacular fast twisting courtship flights. Birds glide and plummet, up and down, incessantly calling each other at the same time. Air acrobatics are sometimes disrupted by hard work - before female lays eggs at the end of February, old nest needs to be examined and repaired.

Ravens are monogamous and unless the nest was damaged or the relationship status has changed, they usually occupy the same nest  once they had built at the very beginning of their life together.  Cheating on a partner happens very rarely. Even if pairs are happy together for many years, they still practice rituals of nuptial flights every year. No wonder, every relationship needs to be cherished!  

At the end of February, female lays about 4 - 7 eggs depending on the amount of nourishment which is estimated by the female perfectly.  It is she that incubates eggs, the male brings her food (usually carrion). 

Just three weeks after the eggs are laid, chickens are hatched. Ravens are altricial species, which means that right after hatching they stay in the nest and receive parental care there for long periods of time, in case of raven it’s 40 days. Next, parents make it clear to their children that it’s time to move out.

Young birds, however, do not leave their parents instantly. For several months they live and sometimes scavenge together spending nights with their family; birds often establish hierarchical flocks, amounting over a dozen individuals.

 

Young birds “say goodbye” to their parents in autumn. They occupy new areas and look for a place to build a nest, preferably on high spruces, away from prying eyes of predators (mainly martens and birds of prey such as eagle-owls or hawks). It’s not always easy to protect the nest, but ravens are fierce and active predators.

When it comes to food, raven prefers eating meat – it hunts for insects, lizards and smaller birds, moreover it sometimes ransacks nests. However, raven is an omnivore so  when it’s hard to find food it practically feeds on everything starting from fruits, through seeds and ending with plant sprouts.

Raven really mastered finding carcasses – usually it is one of the first to feast on carrion. It is mainly because these birds have a very good sight and exceptional instinct.

In January and February other resident birds of prey such as white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, northern goshawk, Eurasian eagle-owl and tawny owl start to breed. At this time of year it’s particularly easy to hear characteristic calls of owls, especially during cloudless, moonlit nights. What may curdle one’s blood, for owls is just a warning signal.