To ‘quoth’ the American poet Edgar Allen Poe, ‘nevermore’ shall the raven be removed from Danish shore. Well, perhaps not nevermore, but there are certainly a lot of them around at the moment.
Over the past 20-30 years, raven numbers have been on the rise in Denmark and in southern Sweden. The dark and mysterious bird has gained a particularly strong foothold in Bornholm, after a outbreak of sarcoptic mange completely eradicated the island’s fox population in the 1980s.
“The foxes left a vacuum and there was suddenly a lot of food left to go round,” Jens Christensen, an ornithologist from the Danish Ornithologists Association, told DR Nyheder. “So the animals killed along the roads, mice and garbage were ready to be eaten by the ravens.”
Before the Danish fox population took a hit, the ravens became more and more scarce as the open rubbish pits disappeared from the Danish landscape. Many migrated south where there was still a lot of open rubbish heaps that presented easy food opportunities.
The ravens were also targeted by hunters and farmers in the past, but today the omnivorous bird is protected in Denmark along with other birds of prey.
Christensen estimated there were about 50-100 raven couples in Bornholm today. The bird mates for life.
Ravens can also imitate human speech (see below).