quoth the raven “nevermore.”
The symbolic meaning of the Raven in Native American lore describes the raven as a creature of metamorphosis, and symbolizes change/transformation.
In some tribes, the Raven is considered a trickster because of its transforming/changing attributes. This is especially true for the Haida tribe, who claim he discovered the first humans hiding in a clam shell and brought them berries and salmon.
Each tribe had a name for the bird and because of its non-secretive habits, it is one of the most familiar birds to the casual observer.
Edgar the Raven came into our lives in the summer of 2008. But for his silence he would not have distinguished himself as being extraordinary among his fellow ravens.
In folk tales, literature, and dare I say, reality, ravens have the reputation of being trickster, comedian, jester, harbinger of good tidings and bad. And up until Edgar showed up, we had no reason to believe otherwise.
To label the raven as nonsecretive is nothing short of an understatement . There is nothing shy or low key about ravens. They have a wide range of vocalizations from a soft piping sound to the raucous and distinctive cries of a mocking jester which reverberate throughout the area announcing their presence There is no need to guess when ravens are about, we all knew when they were present, with, perhaps, the exception of Edgar.
From the first time the pups and I were aware of him, Edgar was always silent and respectful. He never attempted to lure our dogs onto the thin ice on the lake, make raucaus noises, harass or otherwise make life difficult for the smaller birds. Edgar was always silently perched on his favorite cedar.
Since Edgar arrived as a solitary soul, he was most likely an adult. Ravens only flock when they are juveniles or gather when there is carrion to share. When they reach sexual maturity between the ages of two to four years, ravens are otherwise solitary or occassionally paired .
Edgar, for some reason, adopted us. He used to perch on his branch and silently watch the dogs at play or my futile attempts to nurture a productive garden in an area rife with ravanous slugs and nibbling deer. When the pups and I would hike up our notorious “4-wheel drive only” driveway and down Setter Lake Rd to the cul-de-sac, Edgar would bop along with us. The solitary neighbor past our lot told me that she used to watch Sara, Tara, Mozart,, and I walking with the raven following along.
Ravens are noted carrion eaters and omnivores, They are notorious for raiding poorly secured garbage by pulling garbage can tops off, ripping open and examing the contents of garbage cans, bags, what have you. Now, I do not know how Edgar behaved when he was not with us, but we never saw him perched on top our our tightly secured garbage cans trying to figure out how to unsecure them or waddling in the area.
Since Edgar was silent, and never tried to lure the dogs onto the ice during the winter, I started leaving leftovers for him in the center of a tall tree stump in a small clearing surrounded by cedar trees that he could perch in. The dogs felt proprietary towards any leftovers saved for Edgar and though I would start them to the house, Edgar did not always wait for us to reach the house much less enter before flying down to scoop up his meals. to the joy of the pups who would dash back to chase Edgar hoping he would drop something for them. Edgar never did.
And during our walks, I started carrying extra marobones and biscuits for Edgar. During the two years we knew Edgar, I do not know if he had a mate or nest nearby. He was just usually there, a part of our lives, the pups knew who “Edga” was.
Then in June 2010 we temporarily moved to the lower 48 for three years for medical reasons and said goodby to Edgar. When we returned in July 2013, I looked for our silent friend but Edgar had evidently moved on as we have not seen him since our return. Edgar must have belonged to someone before and hopefully he found another home to grace.
It is now 2019 and we have had a group of four juveniles hanging about the neighborhood occassionally visiting our lot. Our original three pups, Sara, Tara, and Mozart have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and we now have five, two Shiloh Shepherds, two heeler mixes, and one lab-sharpei. The Shepherds are sloppy eaters and leave biscuit pieces in the gravel. This noisy group of four juveniles enjoy cleaning up after Eli and Sam.
And this past winter, I realized there is one of the four who is silent. This youngster perches on a lower dead branch on a tall hemlock next to the wood drying shed where it can hear and watch me in the kitchen. When I see it perched there, I bring out a biscuit or piece of toast and put it on the roof of the shed. This raven waits for me to bring the canine mob into the house before it lands on the roof to collect the treat. Hopefully “Nevermore” is not the last word, and this youngster will elect to stay and be a part of our Setter Lake family..
Feature image of raven against the moon courtesy of https://listverse.com/2017/11/12/10-incredible-facts-about-ravens/