By Daniel Betts
After many weeks the infamous brown raven has finally been photographed. Valley resident Susan Prue and her daughter, Alannah, spotted the unusual bird, took a series of pictures and named him “James Brown.”
The Valley Sentinel contacted renowned ornithologist, Jason Rogers from Banff and asked him about the unusual colouring. “It may be a bird that hatched last year and failed to molt due to a hormonal problem. That is, the brown may indicate a very worn/sun-bleached plumage. It may be that the bird is molting normally but the plumage color is abnormal. If this is the case, it may be that there is a deficiency in the oxidation of eumelanin (termed “brown”) or just not enough eumelanin (termed “dilute”). If we’re dealing with the “brown” color abnormality with this bird and I think we probably are, then this bird will be brown for the rest of its life, as this color abnormality is genetically based. These kinds of abnormalities are uncommon, but I don’t think I would call them rare.” Rogers explained.
Having seen the pictures Rogers commented that, “Generally ravens are solitary, but breeding pairs will stay together year-round. The groups you see are birds, consisting especially of younger ones and non-breeders that probably roost together and therefore take advantage of the same food sources. Ravens form groups to share knowledge about food sources. Additional functions of the group may be to allow birds to better defend food sources and find mates.
If Roger’s assessment is correct the brown raven will be a Valley resident for sometime and “James Brown” seems as fine a moniker as any.
Photos of elusive Brown Raven Surface
By Daniel Betts