A Raven Call

Raven nestlings in the Alaskan tundra

Raven nestlings in the Alaskan tundra

Ancient Celts interpreted raven calls as cosmic predictions of affairs to come. Likewise, Native American tribes in Alaska see ravens as a creature of change/transformation and bearers of magic. According to them, a raven’s shape shifting properties helps them in rituals, either by clarifying visions or in healing processes.

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. But I can say that in my own experience with ravens, I find that they have assisted me and guided me through my journey in bird conservation. And here is how:

At this time two years ago, I was finishing up my undergraduate degree not knowing where my studies would take me. I was always interested in animals and conservation, but I never expected that I would be submerged in a variety of birding and bird education jobs for the next 24 months of my life.

It started when I was sitting in my living room, looking at a picture of a resident raven from the avian rehabilitation center I volunteered at. As I looked at the picture, I remember thinking, “You are so beautiful, I want to see more of you in the wild. How cool would it be to bird for a living!?” at that moment my phone rang. It was Environment for the Americas offering me a position to survey shorebirds, assist in seabird reproductive plot surveys, deliver bird programs to kids of all ages, and outreach to the Latino community about bird conservation. This job changed my life, as it opened up a world of opportunities I did not know existed and uncovered my passion for birds.

This passion led me to Alaska this summer to do fieldwork, where my encounters with ravens skyrocketed. From the moment I got to Bethel, AK two ravens called “Cr-r-r-u-k, cr-r-r-u-k” greeting me at the house I was staying at. I had started reading Mind of the Raven a book by Bernd Heinrech that had me fanatical about them. As I watched the two ravens from my window, I was lost in their beauty, for they were much bigger than any other raven I had ever seen in Oregon. Something in me felt they were a good omen to the start of my time there. I expressed my excitement to some senior staff and asked if I would see them often in the tundra (where we would be working for the rest of month doing waterfowl nest plot surveys), but he said chances were unlikely in the Yukon Delta. I was disappointed.

A day later, the crew and I arrived to the field station in Kanaryarmiut, and to our surprise ravens had decided to nest on the building. I was ecstatic! From then on, every time I left and arrived at a new place, I heard “Cr-r-r-u-k, cr-r-r-u-k,” a raven call. They were greeting me hello and wishing me farewell. I spent a little over two months in Alaska working for US Fish and Wildlife, nest searching in the tundra and performing seabird surveys in Prince William Sound. But, I was away from my husband who I missed dearly and could not communicate with due to the remoteness of my locations. However, I couldn’t help but believe that the ravens’ call were a affirmation that I was at the right place. Every time I heard their call, I felt happy and at ease. Were the ravens really telling me something? Or was I just noticing them more since I started reading “Mind of the Raven”? Perhaps both.

The raven nest at the Kanaryarmiut Field station.

The raven nest at the Kanaryarmiut Field station.

Once I came back home to Eugene, OR from my Alaskan adventures, I thought I’d finally have some family time. But after two weeks of being home, while organizing my room and putting my raven book away, I got an e-mail. It was an e-mail from my old supervisor about a position that had opened up banding passerines in southern Oregon and northern CA. Although I felt hesitant to leave home so shortly, I looked at my book and decided to go for it. A week later, I was packing my bags and driving south to work with the Klamath Bird Observatory for the next two months. When I arrived to the secluded cabin in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, I heard “Cr-r-r-u-k, cr-r-r-u-k”, a raven call and I knew I had made the right choice.

Are all of these coincidences? Or are ravens guiding me through the path of conservation? I don’t know. But, I do know that I get the pleasure of listening to their calls every morning while I trek through Oregon’s forests to band landbirds. This is a new journey and the internship involves setting up mist-nests, extracting birds from the nets, banding, ageing and sexing them. I am faced with new challenges as all of this is new to me, but I am excited to learn.

The field house in the Fremont-Winema Forest

The field house and my new home for the next two months.

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From Alaska to Cali, Colombia-Following The Birds (Desde Alaska a Cali, Colombia-Siguiendo Las Aves)

(Traducción al español esta abajo de la sección en ingles)

Wow! I have been given the honor to work with the CALIDRIS Association from mid September to early November! Calidris is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Cali, Colombia. Originally formed by biology students fresh out of college along with the guidance of their former ecology professor, Dr. Luis Germán Naranjo. The organization was inspired to expand their knowledge on shorebirds who annually migrated to Bahía de Buenaventura, Colombia. After four years, Calidris soon realized the need to expand their efforts in order to have a greater impact on the conservation of Colombia’s avifauna.

Since 1993, the Calidris Association was iniciated and continues to contribute immensely to the expansion of knowledge on Colombia’s bird diversity. They have succeeded thanks to their continual effort in the expansion of research, identification and conservation of critical habitat, and promoting stewardship through amazing environmental education programs throughout Colombia!

 Inspired? I know I am!

Currently I am in my hometown of Lennox, California. Where I am preparing for my big trip to Colombia. I have never traveled to South America, so these past few weeks have been a bit overwhelming with emotions and unexpected surprises. For example, learning that I needed to get vaccines to travel… Wow, that’s scary and pricey! Thankfully my parents are very supportive of my career goals and were willing make the sacrifice to help me. I don’t know where I would be if it were not for my parent’s support! Hopefully I can soon be able to pay them back since my father turned 65 this year and no longer has the energy he once had in the past.

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I have also been busy reviewing literature and learning the birds of Colombia. I just received my bird guide on the birds of Colombia in the mail a few days ago, and WOW the biodiversity is incredible! I am excited to have the opportunity to expand my knowledge of migratory passerines along with shorebirds! I feel beyond blessed for this opportunity, and I am extremely grateful for the Calidris Association for allowing me to be part of their amazing organization. I also thank Environment for the Americas for organizing yet another amazing opportunity that allows me to continue learning, and growing as a biologist.

Stay tuned for more updates from my new adventure as I follow the birds from Alaska to Colombia! I will be posting weekly bilingual blogs throughout my internship with the Calidris Association!

You can also learn more about the Calidris Association from their amazing web page: http://calidris.org.co/


 (Español)

¡GUAU! ¡Me han dado el honor de trabajar con la Asociación CALIDRIS durante los mediados de Septiembre a los primeros de Noviembre! Calidris es una Organización No Gubernamental (ONG) con sede en Cali, Colombia. Originalmente formado por estudiantes de biología recién graduados bajo la dirección de su ex profesor de ecológica Dr. Luis Germán Naranjo. La organización fue inspirada a conocer mas sobre la aves playeras que llegaban a la Bahía de Buenaventura durante su migración anual. Después de cuatro años, Calidris rápidamente se dio cuenta que avía una necesidad de ampliar sus esfuerzos para tener un gran impacto sobre la conservación de avifauna en Colombia.

Desde 1993, la Asociación Calidris fue iniciada y continua a contribuir inmensamente a la expansión de conocimiento y conservación sobre la diversidad de aves en Colombia. Logrado gracias a sus esfuerzos dirigidos a la continuación de investigaciones, identificación y conservación de hábitat critico, y la promoción de corresponsabilidad con las asombrosas programas ambientales educativos a lo largo de Colombia.

¿Inspirado/a? ¡Sé que soy!

Actualmente estoy en mi ciudad natal de Lennox, California. Donde estoy preparándome para mi gran viaje a Colombia. Como es mi primera ves viajando a Suramérica, las semanas pasadas han sido un poco abrumador con los costos y sorpresas inesperadas. Por ejemplo, aprendiendo sobre la necesidad de vacunas para viajar…. ¡GUAU, eso es asustadizo y costoso! Mis padres son agradecidamente muy de apoyo de mis metas de la carrera y estaban dispuestos hacer el sacrificio para ayudarme. No sé donde estaría si no tuviera el apoyo de mis padres. Ojala muy pronto podré pagarles por todo lo que me han ayudad por que mi papá a los 65 años ya no tiene la energía que a un tenia antes.

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También estado ocupada revisando literatura y aprendiéndome las aves de Colombia. Hace pocos días recibí mi guía de aves de Colombia en el coreo, y ¡GUAU la biodiversidad es increíble! Estoy muy emocionada de felicidad de poder tener la oportunidad de ampliar mi conocimiento de los paseriformes migratorias en conjunto con las aves playeras. Me siento mas de bendecida por esta oportunidad, y estoy muy agradecida por ser parte de una organización tan increíble como la Asociación Calidris. También le doy muchísimas gracias a Environment for the Americas por otra oportunidad asombrosa donde puedo continuar mi aprendiendo, y creciendo como bióloga.

¡Alertos para más actualizaciones de mi nueva aventura siguiendo las aves desde Alaska a Colombia! Durante mi pasantía voy a escribir cada semana un nuevo blog sobre mi experiencia con la Asociación Calidris en español y ingles.

Para mas información sobre la Asociación Calidris vista su maravillosa pagina: http://calidris.org.co/