wolf fact of the week, wolves and ravens

I originally planned to have ravens in one scene of Promise of the Wolves, and one scene only.  I just wanted to show readers the cool relationship between wolves and ravens and then get on with the rest of the book. But once Tlitoo got his beak into the story he wouldn’t leave.  He became one of Kaala’s best friends, the provider of comic relief, and one of the most important characters in the book.  He will have an even bigger role in Secrets of the Wolves

Here’s the scoop on wolves and ravens:

The raven is sometimes known as “the wolf-bird.” Ravens, like many other animals, scavenge at wolf kills, but there’s more to it than that. Both wolves and ravens have the ability to form social attachments and they seem to have evolved over many years to form these attachments with each other, to both species’ benefit. There are a couple of theories as to why wolves and ravens end up at the same carcasses.  One is that because ravens can fly, they are better at finding carcasses than wolves are. But they can’t get to the food once they get there, because they can’t open up the carcass. So they’ll make a lot of noise, and then wolves will come and use their sharp teeth and strong jaws to make the food accessible not just to themselves, but also to the ravens. Ravens have also been observed circling a sick elk or moose and calling out, possibly alerting wolves to an easy kill.  The other theory is that ravens respond to the howls of wolves preparing to hunt (and, for that matter, to human hunters shooting guns). They find out where the wolves are going and following. Both theories may be correct.

Wolves and ravens also play. A raven will sneak up behind a wolf and yank its tail and the wolf will play back. Ravens sometimes respond to wolf howls with calls of their own, resulting in a concert of howls and calls.  

Sources: Mind of the Raven, Bernd Heinrich, The American Crow and the Common Raven, Lawrence Kilham


  1. Fury if the Tempest says:

    Awsome! I wish I could see that in real life!

  2. Julia Montgomery says:

    I love the fact that you put real facts into the book! I think it’s more interesting putting real facts in a book than making the whole thing up. It makes it more realistic and believable. I’m not saying I don’t like the other parts of the book (because I LOVE the book), I’m just saying I like that there’s a handful of real things thrown in there. Keep up the great writing! You’re doing great! I’m buying all of your books!

  3. While it’s true that ravens & wolves DO sometimes play, don’t romanticize it too much–for it’s also true that wolves sometimes kill ravens that come too close to “their” carcass. Also, it is generally believed that wolf pack-hunting behavior evolved as a response to ravens stealing meat from “their” carcass. A pair of wolves cannot eat an entire carcass, but ravens call in the gang (20, 40, or more) and eat & cache all the meat. A pack of wolves doesn’t leave so much for the wolfbirds.

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