Whether you're a fan of football or a fan of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry, you know that ravens have a home here in Maryland! Poe's poem became a huge hit after it was published in 1845, and the legacy of this piece of writing led to the formation of the NFL team we all know and love. But you may not realize just how interesting these birds can really be. Look past the purple uniforms and spooky rhymes to see the real ravens -- creatures that are intelligent, playful, and fascinating. We've got a few fun facts for you!
1. Ravens can mimic human speech
In Poe's poem, the haunting raven continues to repeat the word 'Nevermore'. But could a raven really do something like that? Yes! Ravens have an uncanny ability to mimic sounds, just like parrots and parakeets can. They can even imitate human voices and repeat back words they've heard. If you said 'nevermore' to a raven repeatedly, it may say it back!
2. Ravens have many folkloric meanings
In Norse mythology, the god Odin had a pair of ravens named Huginn and Muninn, who reported back to him on what has been happening all over the world each day. Ravens also play an important role in Native American stories, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. In these stories, ravens may be both tricksters and creator figures. In England, captive ravens live in the Tower of London, and legend says the kingdom will fall if the ravens ever leave.
3. Ravens love to play
Sure, the raven may have a reputation for being spooky, but in reality, ravens are creatures that love to have fun. They may not quite be ready to play football, but they've been spotted playing catch with sticks while flying. They also like to roll and slide in the snow. They'll even tease and taunt other animals just for the fun of it.
4. Ravens are not the same as crows
Both ravens and crows belong to the same family, the corvids. This family also includes birds like blue jays and magpies. Ravens and crows look similar, but there are a few important differences. Ravens are larger, with wedge-shaped tails, while crows are smaller and have tails that are fan-shaped. Ravens also have a lower and croakier call.
5. Ravens live in western Maryland -- and at the zoo!
If you live in the western counties, you may have seen ravens outside for yourself. However, you don't have to live there to see a real raven for yourself. At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, two African ravens named Rise and Conquer can be visited! They're the official team birds of the Baltimore Ravens football team, and they visit the stadium during home games, too.