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Raven Portraits

I moved into the Ortiz Mountains to compose a gallery of raven portraits.  But one thing led to another. The endeavor quickly expanded to include coyotes and the exotic nocturnal blooms I found surrounding me. Soon I was photographing other creatures and some of my human neighbors. But ravens remain a primary focus.

One of the first lessons of observing ravens is that they are all unique individuals, not only in looks, but in character, personality and general attitude; some -- and here the anthropomorphizing asserts itself -- exhibit what can only be termed senses of humor... taunting others of their group with morsels of food, then dodging and weaving in chase-and-evade games. These activities can lead to wild airborne bouts of follow-the-leader. Another, more hardcore bunch of individual ravens can be seen strutting up to coyotes from behind and pecking their tails (coyotes' luxuriant tails nearly reach the ground). Often coyotes, long familiar with this treatment, take it in stride but on occasion coyotes will get hacked off and make a mock lunge at the offending birds; this does not halt the feathered insults and soon the birds are back at it again, rawking triumphantly to their fellows perched above. Some ravens are more inquisitive than others; there is no doubt that they now recognize me as an individual too. And even the most assertive ravens will give a new coyote arrival a wide berth, clearly distinguishing between the various canids in the neighborhood.

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