The Raven: A Natural History in Britain and Ireland

Overview

Well-known throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the Raven has a prominent place in myth, legend, and history. This book presents a thorough summary of the current state of knowledge regarding the Raven's natural history, describing its present distribution, habitat requirements, calls, feeding habits, social behavior, and population centers. The text focuses on the Raven's ecology in the United Kingdom, but is of interest worldwide to both amateurs and professionals. It contains useful comparisons of the Northern ...

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1997 Hardcover New The Raven is one of the most spectacular and romantic of British birds, but relatively neglected in the modern literature of ornithology. Derek Ratcliffe ... here presents a thorough summary of our knowledge of its natural history, emphasizing the long association of the bird with humankind. The place of the Raven in myth, legend and history is long established, and this book describes the bird's fall from grace as a valued scavenger in medieval cities to a persecuted outcast in the modern wilds. The previous wide occurrence of Ravens is reviewed against the relationships between their present distribution, status and habitat requirements, as both a nesting and a non-breeding resident. The dependence of Ravens on carrion (especially sheep) within an omnivorous diet is the key to the species' ecology, and its social behaviour has evolved in close relation to this lifestyle. The flocking and communal roosting of non-breeders are major features of Raven behaviour, while their nesting habits e Read more Show Less

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Overview

Well-known throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the Raven has a prominent place in myth, legend, and history. This book presents a thorough summary of the current state of knowledge regarding the Raven's natural history, describing its present distribution, habitat requirements, calls, feeding habits, social behavior, and population centers. The text focuses on the Raven's ecology in the United Kingdom, but is of interest worldwide to both amateurs and professionals. It contains useful comparisons of the Northern Hemisphere species. Brought to life through beautiful detailed illustrations, maps, and tables, this is a valuable study on one of the most spectacular and romantic of British birds.

Key Features:

  • Provides a rare glimpse into Raven ecology/biology in the U.K.
  • Features beautiful illustrations, along with useful maps and tables
  • Emphasizes the long association of the bird with humans
  • Contains current information on feeding habits, breeding, territorialism, intelligence, and distribution
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is the sort of bird book I particularly enjoy because a fresh wind blows through much of it, showing the author to be what a writer about ravens should be—an acute observer."Guardian

"Powerful illustrations complement writing of real insight into these formidable, yet playful, birds."New Scientist

"Do buy this excellent book and read it."Cambrian Ornithology Society Bulletin No 112

"Derek Ratcliffe has an enthusiasm that shines through the pages of his latest book. The text is supported by extensive appendices and tables, crammed with data and facts; serious matters of behaviour and ecology are addressed; but the presentation is constantly enlivened by anecdote. This is a book about real birds, not textbook abstractions. As such it is a joy to read as well as a valuable contribution to ornithology."Habitat

"[Ratcliffe] presents a comprehensive and historical picture of this once common town scavenger."Birding World

"The personal approach by the author is refreshing and his administration for the raven is evident throughout the very readable text."Highland News Group

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780856610905
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/1997
  • Series: Poyser Birds Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xv
Acknowledgements xix
Introduction: The Raven: spirit of the wilds 1
1. THE RAVEN IN HUMAN HISTORY 7
Prehistory 8
The Raven in myth and legend 9
From scavenger friend to predator-foe 16
2. THE RAVEN'S COUNTRY 27
Cliff coasts of the agricultural districts 30
Lowland farmland in the west 32
Foothills and marginal land 33
Sheepwalks of the higher hills 34
Grouse-moors of the eastern uplands 35
Deer forests of western and northern Scotland 36
Cliff coasts of the northern and western moorlands 37
3. DISTRIBUTION AND NUMBERS IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND 4O
South-east England 40
The Channel Isles 42
South-west England 42
East Anglia 46
Wales 47
Midlands 53
Northern England 55
Southern Scotland 60
Scottish Highlands 64
Scottish Islands 68
Ireland 71
Grand totals 74
4. FOOD AND FEEDING HABITS 75
Studies of food 78
The Raven as a predator 82
Other foods 89
Feeding habits 91
5. SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR 97
Territorialism 97
Flocking and communal roosts 101
Social behaviour in display 107
6. RAVEN MOVEMENTS 118
General movements 118
Daily movements 125
7. ASSOCIATIONS WITH OTHER ANIMALS 127
Birds 127
Mammals 138
8. BREEDING: NEST AND NEST SITE 139
Nest construction 140
Nest sites 144
9. BREEDING: THE EGG STAGE 16O
Prelaying behaviour 160
The egg 161
Clutch size 165
Laying 168
Incubation 171
1O. BREEDING: THE YOUNG 174
Nestling growth 175
Brood size 182
Breeding performance 188
Causes of complete breeding failure 189
Egg-collecting and its effects on breeding performance 189
Regional variations in productivity 191
11. TERRITORIAILISM AND POPULATION REGULATION 196
Surplus non-breeding populations 199
Rapid remating 200
The ceiling on numbers 202
Territorialism and variations in breeding density 204
Mechanism of territorial spacing 208
Limitations of unsuitable nesting habitat 210
Mortality, population turnover and capacity for spread 211
12. RAVENS IN THE MODERN SCENE 217
Gamekeepering 218
Afforestation 225
Changes in farming practice 232
Disturbance 236
Pesticides 238
Conclusions 240
13. RAVENS ELSEWHERE IN THE WORL~D 241
Subspecies of Corr~us corax 243
Other species of Raven 245
14. INTELLIGENCE IN RAVENS 249
Appendices
1. Distribution of Raven flocks and roosts in Britain and Ireland 256
2. Calls of the Raven 265
3. Appearance of the Raven 268
4. Scientific names of animal and plant species in the text 271
5. Names of the Raven 274
Bibliography 275 l40
Tables 1-27 284
Index 317 60

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