As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ravens' return is bad news for water tower work, good news for bird lovers

APRIL 24, 2014 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014, 1:21 AM

In case you haven't heard, a family of nesting common ravens has been playing a bit of havoc in Fair Lawn.

A work crew was putting up the scaffolding to paint the town's gigantic water tower earlier this month when a ravens' nest was found, with two ravenettes inside.

The state Department of Environmental Protection was notified, and it quickly sent word that work had to be delayed until the little ones fledged, which takes four to six weeks. The cost of the postponement in additional scaffolding rental: $15,000 to $20,000.

But don't blame the ravens, and don't grouse about how much these huge, soot-colored birds are costing anybody. It's not their fault that humans did not check for nesting birds on such a large structure before undertaking this sort of project — especially during nesting season. The ravens would have been incubating the eggs for roughly three weeks before the scaffolding went up.

Instead, let's celebrate the wonderful North Jersey comeback of this big, beautiful, boisterous blackbird.

The first thing you need to know, according to raven maven Rick Radis of New Jersey Audubon, is that they are arguably the smartest birds in the world.

"When you watch them interact with each other, other birds, and the world at large, you know you are observing intelligent beings. Plus they soar like hawks, and clearly like to play."

The second thing you need to know is that ravens are making a big comeback in the region. Radis, who keeps track of the ravens' presence statewide as part of a continuing study, says he knows of at least seven or eight nesting pairs in Bergen and Passaic counties, and possibly more, including two or three on the Palisades, several in the Ramapos and several in the Pequannock watershed.

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