Kevin Omland, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, stands below a highway overpass towering above a wooded stream valley in the Patapsco Valley State Park, just southwest of Baltimore.
He aims his binoculars up at a scraggly nest of sticks that ravens built in the steel beams beneath Interstate 195.
“Give yourself a second and you can see three young,” Omland said. “They are hanging out there quite peacefully. Not flapping, maybe stretching a little bit.”
“Wow!" I replied. "Three large, black, sinister looking dudes sitting up on their nest under the bridge -- kind of ominous."
“Tom, you’re squinting incorrectly. Those are beautiful creatures,” Omland said. “They are going to have marvelous iridescent plumage in just a few days.”
Common ravens, or Corvus Corax, are – of course – beloved in Baltimore, with their ties to Edgar Allan Poe and our NFL team. But historically, around the world, ravens have been seen either as harbingers of death – because of their habit of eating dead animals and people – or, alternatively, as godlike tricksters, because of their intelligence, dexterity, and bizarre vocalizations.