Ravens are curious, smart, playful and have been known to fly upside down and play tricks on people and other animals. (Stephen C. Dickson/Wikimedia Commons)

Ravens are curious, smart, playful and have been known to fly upside down and play tricks on people and other animals. (Stephen C. Dickson/Wikimedia Commons)

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar

Ravens do strange things.

A few weeks ago, before the snow, two friends went for a short hike and picnic on Hudson’s Bay Mountain. Their goal was an open knob at the top of the Green Tee that looked like a very inviting spot for lunch.

As they approached, they could see a group of common ravens “dancing” around the knob and clearly having a fun time. Ravens are very acrobatic. They love to find an updraft to follow and often do complicated swirls and somersaults called sky dancing.

They can also fly upside down.

Many years ago, my husband Jim was obsessed with the Don Juan stories by Carlos Castaneda. As we were driving out of Vancouver one day to go on a hike, we found ourselves following a raven flying upside down. “Oh,” says Jim, “Don Juan says a raven flying upside down means good luck.”

I rolled my eyes. Good luck, eh? That is not what I thought after one of the worst hikes we ever did – straight up the steep mountainside, no switchbacks. I was ready to divorce him there and then.

Back on Hudson’s Bay Mountain, one of the ravens flew right past one friend, so low that it was staring eye to eye with her before going off to join its buddies.

Despite that somewhat intimidating encounter, the friends decided to stop at the knob and have lunch. The ravens were still hanging around. Suddenly one flew toward them and dropped a big clump of moss on them. Young birds are fond of playing games with sticks, repeatedly dropping them, then diving to catch them in midair. They are also known to drop pebbles on other animals, and people, if they get too close to a nest, but this was not nesting season.

Ravens have also been known to give gifts, but usually to people they know well. Did the moss bomb indicate a friendly gesture or a warning? Who knows, but the Raven is not called “the Trickster” by Northwest Coastal First Nation’s people for nothing.

The friends picked up their lunch and headed off elsewhere to eat.