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Ravens in Snow


Maybe it’s down versus fur.


During the years I lived in Oregon, where the state was so constantly damp that Ken Kesey described it as the only place where a half hour after you’re dead you’ve got a mushroom growing out of your chest, I learned of the frequent uselessness of down clothing. Once drenched, such garments have no insulating properties whatsoever. Wool, on the other hand, made from a form of fur, still keeps us warm when it is soaked. 


In Oregon it often rains on ski slopes. While the Indigenous peoples of Alaska have many terms for the varieties of snow, “Oregon Peanut Butter” is not one of them.


I see New Mexico coyotes in the rain but no ravens.


Here in the Ortiz Mountains, I see ravens in the snow but coyotes only infrequently.


Ravens seem to enjoy snow and will slide otter-like down snowbanks for no discernible reason other than sport. Ravens, like some other birds, are equipped with nicititating membranes under their eyelids, retractable opaque coverings facilitating moisturizing and providing barriers from infection when pecking apart dead animals; carrion is a major element of raven diet. Too, nicititating membranes offer protection from wind and precipitation; think powered goggles with a washing function (and imagine a peregrine falcon’s 240 mph dive without them).


Ravens seem not to notice the rings of ice that frequently form around their collars in Winter.


Ravens, of course, wear fluffly down attire.  

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