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RE: Re: raven beak clicking

Subject: RE: Re: raven beak clicking
From: "Martyn Stewart" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 08:26:31 -0700
That would be great to listen to Geoff, Ravens (Corvus corax) are
practically the same here, in fact you couldn't tell them apart mate, I
live in the Seattle region in the Pacific Northwest and have been here
now for about 7 years. I'm an ex-pat formally from good old bonnie
Scotland, I had recorded Ravens in the Highlands of Scotland and indeed
here, I've looked at sonograms of both sets of birds and I can find no
difference. Ravens don't very often sit on lamp posts the crows do :-)
(by the way, American crows, Corvus brachyrhynchos are practically the
same also) I also have recordings of various clucks and clicks, I can't
get close enough to see if the beak is clicking or connected to vocal
noises either, I would be fascinated to hear your sounds. I've long
admired your work mate and when I was in the UK I bought your last bird
CD, great stuff!
Martyn Stewart
-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Sample  
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 2:54 AM
Subject: [Nature Recordists] Re: raven beak clicking
on 26/9/03 1:48 am,  at

> On our morning walk, my dog Grover barked at a big raven that was
> sitting on a streetlight arm in the bus lot. The raven was making a
> silent call, clicking its beak three times click-click-click. Its
> lower jaw was quivering in between the clicks, like it had
> laryngitis. It repeated the "call" five or six times.
> -Dan Dugan

Hi Dan

I can't remember hearing this from a raven but carrion crows here in UK
(corvus corone) regularly give clicking calls. I've been puzzled as to
whether it was vocal (like a glottal stop) or bill-clicking, since I've
seen the action close enough to tell. I've got half a mind that the call
often interspersed at intervals with muffled throaty sounds (again
quiet). But it may be that I've lumped the 2 classes together in my
Just checked and the 2 sounds run together in the calling series on a
recording I've got.

Showing my ignorance here: are north American ravens the same species as
European? I can't imagine any UK ravens sitting on a lamp-post (the
at the tower of London have their wings clipped, I believe).

I was fortunate enough to get some close recordings of a 10/11 month old
raven in Jan & Feb 2002. The bird had been found with damaged plumage in
local hills the previous september by the national park warden; he kept
in a large aviary at his house over winter (with minimal human
then re-introduced to wild subsequently when new feathers grew.

John called me when round about christmas/new year the bird started
indulging in quite prolonged vocal sessions in the morning at first
'with the weirdest sounds'. On the first recording session, a sunday
near the end of Jan, it was raining lightly, but the bird performed
with long streams of varied sounds (squeals, purrs, croaks and soft
yelps) -
essentially a subsong. I returned 2 weeks later when there were better
conditions, but the bird was in slightly different vocal mode. Not so
subsong as trying variations on the basic cawing call, sometimes loud,
mostly a bit more subdued.

It was a real privilege to listen in to a known-age bird finding its
Essentially wild: it got nervous with me within sight of its cage. And
presumably it would have learnt the basics of raven language in its
first 6
months or so living free with the rest of the local raven community. But
John never managed to sex the bird with confidence.

I could dig out part of the first session and post an mp3 on the website
anyone's interested. I may need some brief instructions (does one ftp

Regards, Geoff.

Geoff Sample

Wildsong Studios
Northumberland, UK

'Music is everywhere if only we had the ears to listen'. John Cage

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