Thursday, March 13, 2014



 It's no shock to us by now that, Ravens have proven to be one of the most riveting and unpredictable species of birds, demonstrating their abilities. Not only have there been studies done by researchers observing and learning the capabilities of the Ravens, but in actuality Raven's have been observed by many religions. Stories, myths, traditions and beliefs have been made about Ravens and followed by many different kinds of religions. In my creative piece, I have focused on drawing one of the Native American's story and I have also searched the roles of Raven's in other religions and folklore. There are three major regions that have made the most influences of Ravens in their religions, and those nations are North America, Europe, and Native Americans.

Bill Reid illustration (image source:
Ravens are conceivably, the most common bird symbol used in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. As most of us know and have heard of, Ravens are symbolized as death and misfortune. However, in North European culture and religions, Ravens are also believed to appear in the form of goddesses, gathering over the battlefields, feeding on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Whereas in Great Britain, spotting a Raven before proceeding into a battle gave a sign of suspicion, and meant that the army would be defeated. (Sax 2009). In North America I have learned that the Ravens are actually the creators of the world. I also learned that Raven was given the role of Noah from the biblical story of Great Flood, and how the Raven took animals on to the big raft in order to save all the animals. Following that story I also learned that because the Raven did so much for the humans, and in return the Raven was refused  by humans to marry a woman he loved, so as a revenge the myth states that the Raven created mosquitos to torment humans forever (Tucker 2014). I also found a very engaging story called “Raven steals the light”. Although I thought the story was only based on the Athabascan Tribe, however, as I researched more about the story I found out that many of the Native tribes, portrayed the Raven as a trickster, and so the idea of the story is the same, but there are certain variations with different tribes. The moral of the story was that there was no light, because the Chief of the tribe kept it in a box, and the people lived in total darkness, and the Raven did not like that. So the raven tricks Chief’s daughter, enters her body, and she gives birth to the Raven as an infant. The Raven then grew in the house as an infant and asked the Chief for the box with the light, and as soon as he got the box, the Raven changed into his bird shape, and carried the box to the sky, and that's how the Raven stole the light. (Reid 1996).

After conveying the Raven's role in religion in North America, the European religious traditions and beliefs, and with the native tribal myths, the themes of the Raven reoccurs of death, wisdom, and trickery. Which is why I believe that the Raven has an important role in many religions. My focus on the creative piece, is drawing the story of “The Raven steals the light”, while explaining it in the paper how Raven played an important role in traditional stories and in religions. For my creative piece I have been inspired by the image produced and drawn by Bill Reid from the book “The Raven Steals the Light”  which is shown above.


Reid, Bill, and Robert Bringhurst 1996. The Raven Steals the Light: Native American Tales. Boston: Shambhala. 

Sax, Boria. 2009.  "The Tower Ravens as Mascots of Britain in World War II."Tiere Im Krieg. By Ferdinand Scöningh. Zurich: n.p., 2009. 199-213.

Tucker, Suzetta.  2014. "ChristStory Raven, Crow, Blackbird Page."ChristStory Christian Bestiary. 1998. Web source.



Dr. Douglas Wacker is a faculty member here at the University of Washington Bothell who lectures in topics around Animal behavior, endocrinology, and neuroscience in the STEM program. Through having the pleasure of interviewing him about the different types of research he is conducting with some of his students around crows, I got to understand through different types of lenses the research they are all doing. First, he said that there are about 10,000 to 15,000 crows that come to UWB and the North Creek Wetlands on a daily basis, that right there is huge. There are not that many places around the nation who have the opportunity to have a roosting site for crows right next door. Secondly, he stated that the 10,000-15,000 crows that come on a daily basis are definitely having an effect on the North Creek wetlands. First of, this is a natural effect, which does not mean it is neither good nor bad. Dr. Wacker compared the effect that the crows are having on the wetlands, is like what beavers do. They cause natural changes to ecosystems. Thus, one of the effects of crows might be the input of crows’ defecation that contains both seeds and nitrogen. In terms of nitrogen, while crow poop does not contain as much nitrogen, it is still not know what or how much effect the input of nitrogen from crows is having in North Creek. Another thing to consider is the nitrogen coming from other sources rather than just the crow poop, such as fertilizer runoff. So far, Dr. Wacker and his students have not found any evidence of effect of the excess nitrogen in the salmon that travel through the North Creek, but he said more specific studies are needed to have a clearer picture. He also said that nitrogen would most likely have an effect on the small plants that can either do really well with nitrogen or the ones who cannot do as well with lots of nitrogen. In terms of the seeds carried in the bird poop, Dr. Wacker stated that this could have an effect on the biodiversity of the plants in the wetlands.  For example, he stated how the university really wants the wetlands to be a representation of the Pacific North West habitat.  Therefore if crows are bringing seeds of invasive plants with them, then more invasive plants, such as the invasive Himalayan Blackberry, will start to grow in the wetlands. This wouldn’t be a natural problem, since the effect is being created naturally, but it could potentially be a problem for the university, in terms of the North Creek wetlands not being as original as what a Pacific North West environment should be. 
Dr. Wacker during the talk he gave in our class

Throughout the process of trying to figure out what types of effects the crows are having on the North Creek Wetlands, Dr. Wacker is currently doing hands-on research with five different students who are very interested in the topic. Through this process, he states that not only are the students researching about the crows, but they are also getting to learn how to do science and using their scientific method practices. It was in the winter of 2013, when Dr. Wacker first saw the 10,000-15,000 crows on campus and became really interested about the topic, so interested that he taught the BES 301 Science Methods and Practice class where students collected and analyzed data on the roost. Through this class, many of his students began to gain more interest in doing more research on the crows here at UWB and started to come up with questions and ideas. Dr. Wacker talked them into developing research projects and the students jumped into it. Overall, we see that not only research and interest around the work of crows is being done at UWB by different instructors, but also through the students’ interest. Dr. Wacker also stated, that this is a great opportunity for all students (not just for those interested in the environment) to have nature be presented to them at this urban site. Basically, we all need to appreciate the fact that we have crows so close to us through this roosting area at the North Creek Wetlands.

Saturday, March 8, 2014



Growing up we can all remember our parents telling us to treat others the way you want to be treated. But did they ever tell you to treat crows the way you want them to treat you? Possible not, and it may be due to many people trying to avoid them. Many individuals think of crows as scary, evil, and link them to death. But let me tell you right now that those things have NOTHING to do with crows. In fact, the reason we relate crows to all those things is due to the scary movies we watch. Scary movies tell us crows are scary and mean, and of course there is always a scene with a murder of crows cawing very loudly and scarily at someone or something. For a young child or even an adult, having had watched this, it may have been daunting. I’m sure after the movie ended you thought to yourself ways to avoid crows for the rest of your life. Of course if you have ever visited or attended the University of Washington Bothell, you already know that might be nearly impossible. But can you think of a time you tried to avoid a crow or a murder of them? If so, what did you do? I can bet as a young child you ran the opposite direction and cried to your mother, and as adults, who knows. 

For children, as they get older they start to think of ways to protect themselves. Humans tend to go with their first instinct in order to protect themselves and unfortunately that may result in throwing rocks or even killing a crow in order for them to stay away. But unless you want to spend the next 2-3 years under crow surveillance, then I would advise you to leave crows alone. Crows are the smartest bird species with amazing memorization—and yes; this means they can memorize your face and what you look like. Regardless what you’re wearing or your location, crows will hunt you down, plan revenge, conspire others to join, and will not forget the way you have treated their own kind. So unless you want to be chased down by crows every morning, get pooped on, or even scared to death like characters in scary movies, then I advise you to keep yourself and other children educated on the real behaviors  of crows. That is the message of the children's book I am working in collaboration with my classmate Alejandra. This way, we hope that children learn that when coming across a murder of crows, they should treat them the way they want to be treated.



Drawing has always been a passion of mine.  I especially love drawing animals and find that my strength lies in drawing dogs and cats.  However, the Scientific Journeys: Crows class has inspired me to further pursue my art interests for my final project.  Though there are a broad range of topics that covers how crows are projected in society, one of the things I have noticed is that they are magnificently portrayed in artwork.  Even when they are being labelled as an omen of death, their beauty is not masked. 

I have no affiliation with spiritual groups or religions, so what I felt to be the most interesting to do for my project is a set of anatomical drawings.  As a pre-med student, anatomy is a very hard-driven subject.  All pre-med students will have to study animals at some point in their educational process, but it seems that the most common specimens are cats or fetal pigs.  Because of this, I have decided that I want to explore the anatomy of the crow via their skeleton and their wing structure.  After all, these two things really set birds apart from other animals.

These images are some of the progress of my project one of the sketching process and the other one is an inked skeleton.