The largest member of the crow family, the subject of an Edgar Allan Poe poem and a good Halloween decoration, ravens seem to be more and more numerous lately. I’ve spotted them in Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a place of high, forested ridges where you would expect to see or hear the dusky, large birds. But I’ve also seen them in front of our Town Hall and I’ve heard them croaking above the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, most recently perched somewhere under the Walkway Over the Hudson. The bird’s raspy call echoed off the bridge’s steel structure.
As bird experts point out, their numbers are increasing locally as once cleared land reverts back to forest. The state’s breeding bird atlas shows an explosion of nests from the first survey in the 1980s to the most recent one completed in 2005. In addition, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count, which began in 1900, shows a steady upward trend in the big black birds. They first show up in New York’s count data in 1968 with one being spotted. By 1989, 59 were recorded. Triple digits came in 1997 and in 2014, 557 were tallied.