Life in Haines, Alaska often involves the occasional encounter with wildlife. There are small woodland creatures, large foraging bears, and most recently, inquisitive ravens. When Randa Szymanski and her husband noticed an animal kept getting into their locked trashcans, they assumed the culprit was a bear. It wouldn’t be the first time a hungry bear chose to find its dinner in the family’s trash, but in this case, their blame was misplaced.
After catching the fiend in the act, Szymanski was surprised to learn that it was actually a raven that was jostling the locked lid to get to the treasure of trash inside. After assessing the situation, the large bird soon discovers the trick to the lid. Completely ignoring the strategically placed rock on top, it flies toward the can and lifts the lid in one fluid motion. The raven celebrates its triumph by helping itself to a hard-earned meal.
As omnivores, ravens aren’t usually picky about their meals. They dine on eggs and nestlings of other birds, rodents, insects, carrion, and of course, trash. They’ve also been known to work together in packs to take down larger prey. While their hunting skills are akin to that of falcons and hawks, ravens are best known for their intelligence. They’re often portrayed in mythology and stories as being sly pranksters. Their brains are no larger than walnuts, but some researchers have compared the intelligence of a raven to that of chimpanzees and dolphins.
Ravens are notorious for using tricks to get what they want. They drop stones on people’s heads to keep them away from their nests and steal fish from fisherman by pulling their lines out of the water. They can also learn to mimic human speech. Captive ravens usually learn to talk better than parrots. They imitate the sounds of other wild animals, flushing toilets, car engines, and confuse bird watchers by emitting different kinds of birdcalls.
It’s clear that the raven ransacking the Szymanski trashcans is no newbie when it comes to pulling tricks. They’ll have to invest in a better lock if they want to keep the brainy bird away from their leftovers.