Bright sunlight is reflected on this raven’s shiny black feathers. (Chris Siddle photo)

Get Outdoors!: Snow sculptures and strange encounters

Part one of two for a segment outdoor enthusiast Roseanne Van Ee’s monthly column

Roseanne Van Ee/Special to The Morning Star

Head up to see the Winter Carnival Snow Sculptures on Silver Star.

Sculpting starts Friday, Feb. 1 and finishes Sunday at 10 a.m. You can vote for People’s Choice ‘until 11 a.m. Depending on the weather, these magnificent sculptures remain standing for one-to-two weeks.

While up there, look for ravens –they’re big and black with pointy tails – especially in the afternoons when they head to the mountaintop to glide and play in the updrafts. Whenever I see ravens playing, it reminds me of one summer when I took the gondola up Whistler and walked over to a ridge. About seven ravens were swooping around having fun. I imitated their caws. Then one came swooping past my shoulder, slightly tipped with big claws stretched out towards me and its beady eye staring. I could hear the whoosh-whoosh of its wings. Yikes! I kept on cawing. Another swooped by again the same way. Oh, oh! Then another. Yikes! I threw my arms overhead, waving them around yelling, “OK, OK, you win. I’m out of here,” as I headed back down the trail. I never played with ravens again.

Ravens are corvids, as are crows, magpies and jays. These medium to large, gregarious, omnivorous, heavy billed, intelligent perching birds have raucous voices rather than melodious songs.

Common Ravens inhabit a wide variety of climatic extremes from arid deserts to soggy rainforests, and from the arctic to mountaintops of the northern hemisphere. Monogamous mated adult ravens remain in the same territory year after year. Ravens are very social but sometimes solitary. They’re great talkers with a complexity of sounds, caws, hoarse kwarks and imitations.

One sunny spring day as I was cross-country skiing, I heard water dripping. I later discovered it was a raven. Another time I was all excited to hear the distinctive “hook-hook” of a Pygmy Owl in the trees right beside Silver Star’s parking lot. It was just a raven. What was its motive? To stir up us inquisitive naturalists?

Ravens often feed off humans from garbage dumps, camps, hunters, road kills, etc. They figure out the rhythms of peoples activities. You can often spot ravens gathering at the main parking lots at Silver Star after a summer or winter ski day scrounging for food. The word “ravenous” is related. Years ago I watched a raven fly off with a pancake from the old saloon deck to land with it on a nearby school bus. Moments later the bus started up and off flew the raven. I wonder if that bus driver ever saw the pancake stuck to its roof and thought, “What the heck?”

So enjoy watching the ravens antics while you’re up there. They put on a good show.

Watch for Part 2 of Strange Encounters, which will be printed in March’s Get Outdoors column.

Roseanne enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Discover exciting and adventurous natural events, best trails, and wild places. Follow her on Facebook for more.


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