from http://www.rrbo.com/ via Google Images
While marking locations for safer places for duck nest boxes (see a previous post about this) this past Monday, 1/31, Scott Dayton and I encountered very few birds and mammals in Catlin Woods and Marsh. One species that made its presence known with its distinctive raucous call was the Common Raven. We heard the first one as we re-entered the woods from the marsh. Soon we heard and then saw a second one. They flew from treetop to treetop and then around overhead. The presence of 2 together in suitable breeding habitat in late January could indicate a pair establishing a breeding territory. In the case of Catlin Woods it would probably be re-establishing a territory, as a pair of these birds were encountered here on 2 of our breeding bird census visits last year. At other times last year they were found at Cranberry and Little Ponds, and various other places in between. Common Ravens have large territories, so it is quite likely that this pair claims this entire area. Though they usually nest on ledges and cliffs, they will nest in the tops of tall White Pine and Hemlock trees when their preferred nesting microhabitat isn't available. We have found nesting evidence for this species on our miniscule ledge microhabitat at Plunge Pool and the Solnit Parcel, but I also found an active nest with young in the top of a tall White Pine tree along the Duck Pond Trail a few years ago. Since there are plenty of tall evergreen trees in Catlin Woods, this probably would make a good nesting place for them. We'll have to keep our eyes and ears open for indications of them when we are out there over the course of the next few months. They are usually early-nesters, with building activity occuring in February and March. They could even be incubating eggs by late March if the weather becomes favorable. They would then be likely to be found around the area for the rest of the year. This species has undergone a dramatic population increase and range expansion in southern New England, beginning in the early 1980's. They can now be found with regularity throughout Connecticut, with White Memorial being one of the more reliable places to find them. Besides Catlin Woods and Marsh, I also suggest our Sawmill Field, N. Shore Marsh, Pt. Folly, Little Pond, and Apple Hill as being places to look for them. Please let us know if you find them.