following ravensSydney, Australia - November 2019
Wherever I travel, I enjoy observing and listening to crows and ravens. These somber creatures have fascinated me for years due to their appearance, unpredictable behaviours, and striking intelligence. They can be found almost everywhere on the globe and, although their physical attributes might vary slightly, it is their voice that undergoes exceptional changes. I noticed that for the first time during my Japanese stay in 2015. There, corvids tend to abandon the “r” resulting in an elegant “coa” sound, whereas European ones will commonly have a more guttural tongue and croak or caw all day long. However, their Australian relatives have one of the most bizarre calls I have ever heard. In a suburb of Sydney, I encountered a pair of ravens scanning a tower block’s vicinity. Both resting on utility poles, they undertook a lengthy dialogue made of descending “aah-aaaah” wails. As I followed them in the streets, a light yellow veil of smoke, originating from remote wildfires, filled the air accompanied by the blackbirds’ unbroken plaintive cries. These seemed to carry a sense of sorrow, as if they were mourning the current state of our planet. They knew that they were being shadowed and would signal my presence to one another with shrill calls. Their distrust reminded me of the Norse myth of Huginn and Muninn - yes, I know that you are spying on our world and, with your lamenting semantics, will whisper to Odin what you have seen and heard.