Several raven relatives live in Yellowstone, including the common raven (Corvus corax). Common ravens are smart birds, able to put together cause and effect. Ravens are attracted to wolf kills and some have learned to follow wolves while they hunt elk. They begin feeding as soon as wolves tear into a carcass because ravens are not able to rip open thick skin. Ravens are willing to eat almost anything and are frequently seen near parking lots searching for food—some have even learned to unzip and unsnap packs. Do not feed them.
Recent surveys indicate 200–300 ravens are present in the northern range of Yellowstone. Based on a 2012 study, 64% of the total 243 ravens counted on the northern range were in natural settings away from human areas, while 36% were in human areas.
The dark gray American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) bobs beside streams and rivers. Also called the water ouzel, the dipper dives into the water and swims in search of aquatic insects. Thick downy feathers and oil from a preen gland enable this bird to survive cold waters.
Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) nest in Yellowstone each summer. Their guttural calls announce their presence long before most people see them. Their gray feathers blend in well with their grassland habitat. The tallest birds in Yellowstone, they stand about 4 feet (1.2 m) high. They have a wingspan of approximately 6.5 feet (2 m) and are often mistaken for standing humans or other animals at a distance.
The Yellowstone Resources and Issues Handbook, updated annually, is the book our rangers use to answer many basic park questions.
Boarman, W.I., and B. Heinrich. Common raven. The Birds of North America Online.
Kingery, H.E. and M.F. Willson. American dipper. The Birds of North America Online
Tacha, T.C., S.A. Nesbitt, and P.A. Vohs. Sandhill crane. The Birds of North America Online
Last updated: June 15, 2017