Common Ravens have Returned to Wellesley’s Science Center to Nest for the Third Year

March 31, 2016
Screen capture of nesting Raven, March 30, Wellesley College Ravencam

The pair of ravens that first took up residence outside of the science center in 2013, and have since returned annually, are back to nest. "Pauline" and "Henry," named for Wellesley College founders Henry and Pauline Durant, have again settled in a partially glass-enclosed fire escape on the sunny side of the building—and, with their return, Ravencam is again rolling.

Ravencam, a 24-hour live stream, offers anyone with an Internet connection a window onto the birds' world at any time. For the past three years, Wellesley scientists and the bird-loving public alike have been able to closely observe the focused care the parents have given to the eggs and hatchlings. This year’s nest has five eggs, a typical clutch size for ravens.

In an email, Nicholas Rodenhouse, Professor of Biological Sciences, expressed excitement about this year's next. He wrote, "5 eggs! Pauline and Henry have matured into an impressive pair. If all the eggs hatch and survive, we will have family size comparable to that typically found 'in the wild.'"

Last year, viewers saw the rapid growth of three small creatures from tiny chicks that could not hold their heads up into birds that tested their wings and flew away.

The ravens' presence offers a unique opportunity to add to scientific knowledge. "Ours is the first opportunity to closely observe this most creative of birds in close contact with people," said Rodenhouse when Ravencam first launched in 2014. "Much can potentially be learned about parental behavior, vocalizations, diet, and more."

The ravens' coming to Wellesley is emblematic of the re-wilding that has taken place in New England over the past century. Other resilient wild animal species sometimes spotted on Wellesley's campus include American turkey, beaver, pileated woodpecker, red fox, and white-tailed deer. These returning species indicate a positive change in our local environment.

Lauren Johnson '16 was the first person to spot the birds on campus in 2013. She coauthored an article with Rodenhouse for the journal Bird Observer, based on the data from 2014.

Tune in to the live stream, and learn much more about ravens, including more about their history at Wellesley, on the Ravencam website.