Ranger talks don’t have to be boring. They can be interesting, informative, and fun – especially if your ranger is a vivacious young lady like the one that lectured us about Glacier’s ravens.
After introducing herself, she asked the question, “If you could be any animal in the park, which would it be?”
My mind immediately turned to grizzly bear… big, fast, powerful – top of the food chain. Then I thought about plastic bullets. Ouch! If I got too close to people, they would shoot me without provocation in an attempt to manage me. Or perhaps I would be relocated to a place far away from my home. Another drawback of being a grizzly, halitosis. Grizzlies are always getting a bum rap about their breath. People in the know, those that have fought with bears, always say how putrid they smell. But I’ve heard that their breaths really don’t stink at all because they eat a diet high in berries and other plants. Who knows? I don’t ever want to get close enough to find out.
I decided I would prefer to be the sure footed mountain goat. I would be agile and my leg muscles would be super-strong and carry me to the highest peaks with ease. People would stop their cars to admire me, and I would receive lots of compliments on my cute kids. Then I thought about 9 months of winter in a harsh, windy, and inhospitable environment. I would have to survive sub-zero temperatures and nuzzle through snow to look for food.
I was about to change my mind again, when the ranger piped up and said that she would like to be a raven. Yes, a raven – the object of poetry and myth; the sleek black bird with the throaty croak, the scavenger, the bird of prey.
Ravens are very intelligent birds, she explained. They are excellent hunters, can be easily taught, they reason well, and have extraordinary memory capabilities. They have been known to unzip hikers backpacks and open garbage cans in search of food. They are quite ingenious birds.
And how do you tell the difference between a common crow and a raven? Look at the tail feathers. A raven’s tail is triangular and the feathers form a curve at the tip.
We learned a lot that day about the remarkable raven, but I don’t think I want to be a bird. Although I would love to fly.
When a few weeks later, we saw a raven pecking away at this bicycle seat at Logan Pass, I wondered of his motive. After taking a couple of pictures, then shooing him away, I couldn’t help thinking that he would return. I have a hunch he was a persistent fellow. Ravens are smart, you know.
Everywhere you look, life is an adventure!