The Deathly Raven
The deathly raven, Corvus mors, is as much a creature of legend as it is the most fascinating bird in the biological world. Numerous are the associations made between the raven and death, or the mystique and macabre in general. Writers such as Edgar Alan Poe or Jean de la Fontaine have always been fascinated by the animal, dedicating poems to it, or giving it prominent roles in their stories. But few, if not none, were aware that their fascination was not with the common raven, Corvus corax, but with its close cousin, the deathly raven.
For reasons that are as of yet unknown, the deathly raven has the ability to sense imminent doom and desolation. The common raven may be attracted by the smell of corpses, and, due to its highly developed cognitive abilities, may have learned which human behaviors antecede such feasts (a gathering of large crowds, for example), but theirs is a knowledge that follows logic, and which we can understand, as we are ourselves logical beings. Not so with the deathly raven.
The deathly raven has the ability to sense impending doom and despair, even when there is no physical evidence to suggest it. This, more than the minor morphological differences between them, distinguishes him from the other members of the Corvus genus. And this, too, was the behavior that so fascinated artists and philosophers that had a penchant for the macabre, such as Poe. And it is also what makes them easy to spot.
Ravens are, for the most part, communal animals that live in groups. Whenever one of them finds an abundant food source, he will call his murder, and soon the birds will be everywhere, cawing and making their presence known. The deathly raven, however, is a solitary animal.
It has been mostly on its own. A raven would appear, mistaken, as most would at first glance, for a regular raven. Then, an hour later, a day, sometimes even a week, something tragic will happen. During all this time, the deathly raven will silently stalk those concerned, as if observing them. Then, once whatever tragic event he was foretelling happened, he would leave, as if he just wanted to verify something. That is usually when his cousins crowd the scene, trying to get a meal out of whatever tragedy happened. The deathly raven, however, has never been spotted eating.
There is wide debate among biologists as to the cause of the deathly raven's particular behavior, but conventional science seems to have no hold on this strange creature. This has led to various myths associated with the deathly raven, and, per extension, to his cousins. Some people say the deathly raven does not need to eat, because he feeds on misery, which is why he is always present when a tragedy will happen. Others say he is but a scout for the murder, leaving to inform his friends as soon as carrion is to be found. Others still are convinced that he is a messenger of God, come to warn the righteous of impending doom.
What the truth is we do not know. There is little to be found about the deathly raven in literature, or at least, little that indicates that the author is aware of the difference between the deathly and the common raven. Some dispute its existence even today. Others, however, are convinced that secrecy is an integral part of its way of life, and that the reason why nothing has been written about the deathly raven is because the simple mention of him will attract the kind of tragic doom his presence usually foretells.