Juvenile Common Raven

There weren’t many birds present at the San Rafael Swell Recreation Site in central Utah this past week, the San Rafael River seemed lower than I have seen it and there was evidence of drought conditions, mainly in the vegetation there. The greasewoods looked yellow instead of the vibrant green I remember from the past two years, plants that are normally flowering weren’t and many of those plants appeared stunted.

Juvenile Common Raven back viewJuvenile Common Raven back view – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 322mm, natural light, not baited

It wasn’t a complete wash though because I did come back with some juvenile Common Raven (Corvus corax) images that I like.  There was a family of ravens making a racket in and near the campsite which was right next to the two bridges over the San Rafael River, at one point I counted at least six birds, there may have been more.

The Swinging Bridge is no longer used for vehicle traffic but it is safe for foot traffic. It was built in 1938 and was the only bridge at the site until the early 1990’s.

Calling juvenile Common RavenCalling juvenile Common Raven – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited

One of the juvenile Ravens perched on a fence near the Swinging Bridge, the light was challenging because it was filtered through the leaves of old Cottonwood trees creating dappled light on the fence and bird while the background of greasewood and Navajo sandstone was in full sun. Surprisingly I did not need to use any exposure compensation with this image or the following one to get nice detail in the dark plumage without blowing out the background.

Common Raven juvenile by the San Rafael RiverCommon Raven juvenile by the San Rafael River – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited

This bird is easily identifiable as a juvenile Common Raven because of the short tail, the pink on the gape and the violet-blue eyes. I have images of  Black-billed Magpie juveniles; also Corvids, with similarly colored eyes here. I’m not sure if other Corvid juveniles exhibit the same trait.



  1. Susan June 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Awesome post Mia, I love how you captured the color of the eyes.

    • Mia McPherson June 10, 2012 at 6:26 am

      Thank you Susan, I hope to get some images of juvenile American Crows to see what color their eyes are.

  2. Elijah Goodwin June 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Nice images and nice light Mia.

  3. Carol Mattingly June 3, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Every time I see a raven I think of Edgar Allen Poe which takes me back to my youth. And that was a time of dreaming. Beautiful images Mia. Thanks for helping me get back to my days of dreaming. Carol

    • Mia McPherson June 10, 2012 at 6:25 am

      Quote the Raven Nevermore, yes, it takes me back to my youth too Carol. Thanks!

  4. Laurence Butler June 3, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I’m always blown away by how big Ravens are. Great shots.

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