Everyone knows, but almost no one knows - the thing bird raven. Known for fairy tales, fables, songs, proverbs, nicknames. In popular beliefs, a raven is a thing of trouble. In the raven’s voice there really is something alarming, some kind of alarming and alarming tone. This impression is strengthened by the fact that the voice falls from a height inaccessible to the view, when even with a sharp eye you can not see the bird itself in the sky.
And I have an almost pagan respect for this bird - for family fidelity and caring, for intelligence and quick wit, for courage and caution, for loyalty to one's homeland, for strength and contempt for the elements, for absolute power over the air, for beauty and flight excellence. When on a clear autumn morning, crows fly around the protected areas of the Usman forest, 60 kilometers from Voronezh, in search of victims of night reindeer tournaments, it seems that from the elastic flapping of the black wings, the maples that have not yet awakened startle, dropping the gold leaf. And when the raven, without slowing down, rushes through the forest at the height of the whole half-tree, the oaks and pines seem to take branches out of his way.
A blizzard January day cannot spoil the ravens high spirits. It's time for family games. Thorny dry snow cuts like sand into a storm, and a black couple plays in the hazy sky, and comes through the whistle of the wind from above, from under the clouds, calm and confident, like a leisurely conversation, "crook, cro-cro-cro." Raven fearlessly flies into a thunderstorm, not trying to go around the flaming and rumbling cloud side.
Somehow in April, a stormy reckless wind, as if stunned by the spring sun, drove thousands of herds of clouds across the blue plain at such a speed that their shadows overtook cars rolling along the highway on a slope. A couple of ravens patrolled their territory, driving away flying buzzards and not allowing these mousetraps to hunt in their lands. They swept under the wind, adding up the speed of their flight and the wind, and deployed over the crest of the distant hull, wing to wing, then shaving flight, then soaring in vortices, flew back, and there was no tension or haste in their waves.
Twice, already in late autumn, it was possible to observe a joint aerial game of a lone raven and several ravens. In terms of skill and controllability of the flight, black-gray ravens themselves are not from the top ten, but only far from the head of the family, and they prudently kept behind, repeating, as if new to the teacher, the simple figures of dance.
However, my story is not about the abilities and features of the raven in general, but only about the fate of one bird family. A long acquaintance with this family (we shot it for television) helped to find answers to several old questions about the life and behavior of black birds.
Crow and now can not be unconditionally called an ordinary bird of the chernozem sub-steppe, and not so long ago it was very rare. He had enough heaven and earth, but there was nowhere to build a nest in vast open spaces: a big careful bird needed a tree by its rank, strong and high. But when lattice four-legged power line poles were placed on the fields, savvy birds quickly appreciated their suitability and reliability and began to bridge nests on the bindings of steel beams, and it was not a burden for them to live not on seven, but on seventy-seven winds. One of these nests has been more than forty-five years old, and crowns have not grown every year, because its owners have widowed more than once, not having time to acquire a new life partner by winter.
So here. At the end of February of the last (1998), the pre-spring thaw came to Chernozemye, and in those days the female ravens became hens. But the weather had nothing to do with it: they would have swept in twenty degrees of frost. Having laid the first egg, they didn’t go anywhere, otherwise life under the shell would have died, so all the raven fathers - a day earlier, a day later - became caring breadwinners. Little by little, under the March sun, the slopes, the slopes of the wide Don beams, were thawed, and with prey it became easier day by day. That sad tribute that almost every winter takes from someone was exposed from under the snow. Voles, hamsters, and mice were deprived of snow protection. At ponds and lakes, water began to squeeze the muskrat out of its burrows. The raven's trained eye was easily searched for in the grass rags. In general, anything suits an adult raven: a piece of last year’s cob with a few grains is also fodder.
And just on the day of the equinox, a chick hatched from the first egg, in the next four days, one by one, one after another, his brothers and sisters. Their birth coincided with the beginning of the great migration of birds - spring migration, the first, so far weak, whose wave has just reached the Upper Don. Larks flew over almost lifeless fields, field larks over the valleys of rivers that had not yet spilled, quietly declaring their arrival, black-and-white lapwing danced, dancing, as if rejoicing to return to their homeland, rooks flew in disordered packs, almost scattered. And the local magpies were building their nests.