Pole-sitting ravens rule!

Here’s some towering new research on common ravens—just in time for the 170th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe composing his famous rhyming trochaic octameter. The Raven described the jet-black fowl as “this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore.” Maybe. But biologists mostly think of ravens as incredibly adaptable and clever, as new findings from the vast sagebrush ecosystem of Idaho illustrate. Just 30 years ago, common ravens didn’t commonly breed in the region. Now, they are “the most pervasive predatory species nesting in this area,” according to results published  in The Condor. The reason: They’ve learned to nest on a growing forest of power poles, which provide great protection from predators and fire and a pleasant perch for hunting. That could be bad news for the raven’s prey, including threatened species of hawks and grouse.

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