We have a very smart raven in our neighbourhood. Probably all ravens are smart but I like to think ours is a cut above. And he is a connoisseur. He doesn’t just accept his food as it comes, he puts the effort into making it into a special meal with a personal touch.
I won’t say every day, but I can say most days, a raven flies into our back garden with food. Generally it’s bread (often with sandwich meat) but sometimes it’s something more interesting like cooked chicken or fish.
A couple of schools are nearby and I fear he bullies children into sharing their lunch. Another possibility is that the kids fill themselves on junk food and throw away their sandwiches (I like this thought a lot better – good for my opinion of ravens, if not for kiddies).
Sometimes the raven sits and eats his bounty in one go, sometimes he leaves the snack to soak, only returning when it is good and soggy (which has the unfortunate side effect of making the water pretty murky).
When the chickens spot the raven they come scurrying over. I first thought this was to chase the intruder away (at one time this might have been the reason) but it turns out they hover, hoping for the raven to drop something tasty. My chickens love raven left overs!
Update 9 November 2012: I swear, about 2 hours after posting this, 5 ravens visited our back yard. The noise of the Noisy Miner birds had me rushing to my back window to see what all the fuss was about. Ravens everywhere, noisy miner’s swooping and squawking. It was incredible. As things settled down it became clear that we had a raven family in our garden. 2 adults (they had white eyes – juveniles have dark) were apparently teaching their young how to prepare meals in our bird bath. There was a huge something (sandwich on a baguette?) in the water and the young took turns chomping it down while the parents looked on with pride (brains are an inherited trait after all). I’ve read that the young stay with the adult for 4 months after fledging, that 3-6 eggs is normal and that July-Sept is breeding season. The parents have obviously done the deed, now they have to get these little ‘uns self sufficient and their job is done. You can’t expect the teenagers to move out without learning how to score a good meal!