The Raven from Leadville, CO

  • 14” x 34” diptych, unframed
  • Charcoal on paper
  • $800, unframed

Ravens, scientific name Corvus corax, “raven croaker”, live 15-20 years in the wild, 20 – 40 years in captivity. Somewhere in my posts, I’ve written this story, but as Grandpa would say when reminded that he’d told that story, “I like telling it.”

Years ago I started asking random strangers if they had a bird story. The grocery checkout clerk said “No” but a young man behind me in line said “I have one”. He had recently returned from living in a small Alaskan village where he had observed ravens huddled for warmth around the village street light during the day. A solar eye only allowed the light to come on at night. But the ravens, understanding this, took turns covering the solar eye with a wing. He said a “raven shift” would last a few minutes, then another raven would take his/her place keeping the warming light on for others.

Naturally I wanted to draw a raven, but I had no access to specimens. The University of Kansas Natural History Museum contact could not have been nicer when I asked if I could draw a raven from their collection. I expected a posed, life-like bird, but instead I was led down a narrow corridor with floor to ceiling flat storage drawers filled with tagged raven specimens. I chose this one from Leadville, CO.

Raven on Red Bowl
Raven, Blueberries and Cherries

  • Mixed Media
  • 5″ x 7″
  • In the collection of CM, Topeka, KS

The media for “Raven, Blueberries and Cherriesl” include watercolor, pastel, pen and ink, and acrylic on Ampersand’s Aquabord.

Ravens are a favorite bird, intelligent and resourceful. I keep a copy of Bernd Heinrich‘s book “Mind of the Raven” around.

Favorite Raven Story: I know I’ve written this story somewhere else in my blog, but as my grandfather told my father when he had repeated one of his stories and been reminded of it, “I like telling this story.”
Standing in line at a local grocer I asked the checkout clerk if she had any bird stories as I was collecting them. The fellow behind me said he had one. While living in Alaska the previous winter he’d watched the ravens take turns covering the solar cells for the town’s street lights with a wing, thus keeping the lights turned on and providing a source of warmth for the flock.