Nesting density of common ravens in the Ridge-Valley region of Virginia
By the early 1900s the range of the Common Raven (Corvus corax) in the United States, excluding Alaska, had been reduced to less than · half that of pre-Columbian times. Currently, a disjunct population of the raven occupies a narrow belt of the Southern Appalachian Mountains from northern Pennsylvania to northern Georgia. This population formerly extended to the Atlantic and was contiguous with the northern and western populations (AOU 1957). Much of the raven habitat in the Southern Appalachians occurs on national forests and other public areas. Human activity jncreases yearly on these lands and those in private ownership are being developed at an increasing rate. The influence of timber cutting, road building, the juxtaposition of dwellings on this semi-wilderness species is not known. In 1972 we began a study to determine the habitat requirements of nesting ravens in Virginia. To help evaluate the impact of human activity on raven habitat, we needed to know how close ravens would nest to each other and the annual shifts in nesting sites. To accomplish this objective, we located active raven nesting sites in a portion of their range in Virgmia. Results of our census are presented here. The habitat requirements of ravens and the influence of human activity on nesting ravens will be presented later.