Sunday, July 24, 2011
Ravens are one of the most commonly seen animals at Dead Horse Point State Park. They are incredibly smart and good at finding food, and can usually be found near people. I remember sitting at Delicate Arch one evening eating a pop tart and watching a raven hop closer and closer, hoping I would drop something for it to snatch up.
They love campgrounds! Campers who fail to put away their food before leaving for the day often come back to find it gone--one camper even reported that a raven had stolen a steak off their grill one evening. They went inside their RV to grab something and came back to an empty grill. No wonder they have a reputation for being mischievous tricksters! They have been known to break into styrofoam coolers and pop-up trailers by ripping through the mesh. To avoid a mess and "stolen" food, use hard coolers and make sure all food is stored in a safe place.
As bad as it sounds, they also get into the dumpsters at the park! The wind blows the lids open occasionally, and the ravens get in there, tearing bags apart, looking for "tasty" morsels the humans threw away. Then, we get to go out there, gloves in hand, to clean up after them before the wind makes a real mess. I came up to one such dumpster this spring and immediately thought of the movie Over the Hedge. As I walked up, ravens, chipmunks and lizards all scattered like I had interrupted a buffet.
As the morning sun heats the cliffs below the park, air currents, called thermals, begin to rise. Ravens soar up and down, playing in these thermals that take them well over 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. Steep, fast dives and barrel rolls are only a couple of the exciting aerial maneuvers ravens perform. I saw them diving this morning as I came in to work at the visitor center. Death-defying vertical dives, right over the cliff, only to fly back up and do it again!
Posted by Kim Zuch at 4:37 PM