Common raven returns to Ohio 6.4

Written by David Green.

For the first time in more than a century, common ravens have nested in Ohio. The nest was discovered this spring at Fernwood State Forest in Jefferson County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. 

This largest of all songbirds was last known to have nested in Ohio during the late 1800s - in a once heavily forested area of the northwest known as the Black Swamp. This region was one of the last Ohio frontiers to be settled and was the last stronghold for the common raven in the state. Once abundant statewide, the loss of nesting habitat due to the destruction of woodlands during the last few decades of the 19th century caused the population to decline.  By 1900, ravens could no longer be found breeding in Ohio.

However, these smart and resourceful birds have been expanding their breeding range throughout the Appalachian region for the last decade or so. Increased numbers began nesting in western Pennsylvania in recent years.  Scattered sightings of individual ravens were recorded in southeast Ohio during the past 10 years, probably representing "scout" birds expanding westward into now-suitable habitat.

At least two ravens were spotted in and around Fernwood in 2006 and 2007.  Researchers discovered this spring's nesting pair in March and documented five young birds.

The common raven is 20-27 inches in length, weighs up to 2.5 pounds and has a 46-inch wingspan. Both male and female birds work to construct nests, which are usually found on a high cliff wall or in the fork of a tree 45 to 80 feet above the ground. The average pair produces three to seven chicks and both parents work to supply food for the offspring.

Ravens are omnivorous eaters, dining on insects, eggs, small amphibians and rodents, garbage or the leftovers of other predators.

The return of ravens to Ohio symbolizes the recovery of the state's forests and the resilience of one of the most adaptable and intelligent birds.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017