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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.