The Ravens soar, caw, garble, and talk to each other from their lamppost perches, buildings, and the high trees that border the Great Forest along one side of Prosser, Arizona. The bird’s deep blackness silhouettes Prosser’s blue skies but they drop lower to the ground and closer to the people, unlike other birds their size. But even though Mankind has brought great changes to the world over the past centuries, there seems to be little attention paid to these Ravens that fly over them and around them. Yet the Ravens seem to know more about Man than Man knows about them as they continue to watch the human species from their lofty positions day in and day out. In Prosser the Raven rules, but Man doesn’t seem to care.

The Latin name for Raven is Corvus, their Greek name is Corax, and their species has been around for more than two million years. (In contrast, Modern Man is only about two hundred thousand years old.) Oddly, the Ravens made their choice to live their life with Man over a thousand years ago. Why they chose to do this is still a mystery even though they are able to survive without Man because of their uncanny ability to find food and nutrition almost anywhere on Earth. They live on insects, grain, fruit, small animals, and even food waste. For thousands of years, Man has known about the Raven’s high level of intelligence, and even included the bird in his mythology, folklore, and literature. (Some primitive cultures even made the Raven a god.) And what we now know and call “the Common Raven” came across the Bering Natural Land Bridge into North America about two million years ago. (Their trip was similar to the Native Americans who came after them.) Fully grown Ravens weigh about four and a half pounds and their wing can span to fifty inches, making them one of the larger perching birds Man calls, Passerines. They have black iridescent feathers, dark brown eyes, and their feet and legs run almost three inches long.

However, of all the natural endowments the Raven has their voice is the most distinctive thing about them, and the most interesting. When they set themselves with their backs to the wind their deep sonorous croak rushes out over the treetops for miles. What is even more astounding is there ability to make a great variety of sounds and vocalizations unlike any other bird in creation. Up to thirty categories of sounds have actually been recorded and defined as “social interactions” between Ravens. They make sounds that mimic things around them like wing whistles, bill snapping, clapping and clicking, and even have the ability to imitate Man himself.

Ravens mate for life and thrive in a wide variety of climates that stretch from Arctic freezes to the more temperate zones of North America, the British Isles, and the warmer climes of western Ireland. Usually, they prefer wooded areas with open land like the landscape in Prosser, or the California coastal regions where they build nests along the cliffs for easy access to the ocean’s food and where weather patterns are more moderate. Ravens prefer peaceful places for nesting, but are known for their stormy and quarrelsome relationships with their mates. And yet, they are devoted to their family and to the nest itself.

After finding a particular area where they want to settle, they begin constructing a bowled nest of large twigs that they tie together with roots, vines, mud, or anything like pieces of tree bark lined with deer fur found in early spring. The female drops about a half dozen greenish-brown eggs that take three weeks to open. Then there’s a month of feeding by both male and female, while the fledglings remain in their nest for another six months. Ravens have few predators because of their size, but owls, hawks, the eagles, even mountain lions, lynx and coyotes have been known to raid their nests.

The most extraordinary thing about the Raven is its great intelligence. Biologists discovered that Ravens even participate in seed dispersal by carefully choosing certain locations to plant seeds, harvest them, and then eat the results of their farming. They also found that the brain of the Raven is among the biggest in all of the entire bird species, and their hyper pallium is particularly large, giving them the ability to solve problems and enjoy rational powers, insight, and the ability to imitate.

Scientists have found that Ravens also demonstrate displacement, putting them in a category of only four known living things on earth, the Bees, Ants, Ravens and Humans. These four species are able to communicate objects or events distant in space and time from where the communication of those objects actually takes place. In fact, Ravens are the only other vertebrates that share this ability with Humans, including being inventors able to solve problems and reflect on them. They have actually been observed calling Wolves to a dead animal so the pack can open the carcass and leave scraps for the flock of Ravens to “clean up” in what we call a “trade-off.”

Unfortunately, the Raven is also infamous for being a thief, and watches where other birds and foxes store and hide their food so they can steal whenever the opportunity arises. This happens so often that animals move their food further away from the Ravens when they’re not watching. However, Ravens have also been observed pretending to hide their own food to confuse the foxes, coyotes, and other birds of prey.

For centuries, Native Americans have known about the great intelligence of the Raven, but no one seems to know how long the Raven’s Era actually existed before being replaced by its new counterpart, the Casino Era.

However, Eras come and go but I can assure you the Ravens will continue to endure for still another two million years.

J.S. Kierland graduated from the University of Connecticut and Yale Drama School. He was writer-in-residence at New York’s Lincoln Center and Lab Theatre, Brandeis University, and Los Angeles Actor’s Theatre. He’s written two Hollywood films. His short stories are published in Playboy, Fiction International, Oracle, and many others. He has edited two one-act play books.