By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

Ravens are the animals often associated with death, illness, or a bad omen. With their frightening stare and massive build compared to other birds, everyone would fear them. But with all the misconceptions about them and their black feathers, they present light and hope for many different Indigenous cultures. 

Characteristics and personality 

Ravens are the world’s largest songbirds. Their height reaches up to 66 centimetres, and they have a wingspan of more than 1.3 metres. They weigh between 0.69 to two kilograms. They are huge for sure! 

The colour of their feathers is glossy black, or they sometimes have a purple or violet lustre. 

Ravens are among the most intelligent of all animals. They can adapt to their problems and can solve them easily. They possess a highly complex social system. 

They are known to be confident and inquisitive birds that strut around. What is impressive is they also fly as high as 2,250 metres. 

Habitat 

Ravens can usually be found on the coast of British Columbia, and can breed in every eco province. 

Their habitat is in the open tundra to old rainforests. They tend to avoid urban environments. Ravens can easily be found in landfills, farmlands, and other habitats with high human presence. 

Their ideal habitat is the heavily contoured landscape which provides cliffs for nesting sites. But they mostly prefer a habitat that promotes thermals for soaring, and B.C. is the ideal place for them, with the mountainous regions of cities. 

Ravens are established in the interior and coastal areas of B.C. 

Endangered? 

Thankfully, ravens are not endangered. They have no conservation concerns. Based on Breeding Bird Survey trends, ravens have increased in northern Canada since 1970. With this, people can see the raven species being safe and still living in the foreseeable future. 

Indigenous culture 

Ravens may seem scary as different folktales or myths present them. But they are more than that within Indigenous culture. 

They present different meanings to different Indigenous communities. But they mainly symbolize creation, knowledge, and transformation. 

For Pacific Northwest Indigenous Peoples, they symbolize creativity, mischief, and magic. They believe the raven is seen as the helper of the creator, and they carry messages from the creator through their huge and broad wings.

The Indigenous Peoples of the northern part also believe that ravens are the most popular crest figure. In the south, ravens are valued as guardian spirits. The possessors of the raven spirit are fine hunters. 

Some believe they are a combination of good and evil characteristics, and they were turned black forever for their mischief. 

Other Indigenous communities believe the raven transformed into a baby to find where the light came from and stole it from an ancient chief. They originally had white feathers but turned black after travelling through smoke holes. 

But for Anishinaabe people, ravens do not seek the beauty of others, and they use what he has been given to survive and thrive.  

For more information visit https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/raven-symbolism.