If you are out walking in the hills around Dove Stone, you may be lucky enough to spot the large black silhouette of a Raven soaring above you.They are the largest member of the crow family (corvidae), with wingspans up to 1.5m (bigger than a buzzard!). Distinguished from the commoner Carrion Crow by their size, thick set heavy bill and diamond or wedge shaped tail in flight. If you hear them call it is a noticeably deeper "cronk" sound compared to the crows "caaw".

Mainly found in the uplands of the north and west of the UK, often on open moorland and craggy cliffs and mountains, they have been expanding their range eastwards in recent years. Being one of our earliest nesting species, they can be seen displaying and maintaining territories as early as December, with egg laying occurring as early as late February or March. Pairing for life, on average a Raven will lay between 3-6 eggs in a season with young fledging after 6-7 weeks.

Being members of the crow family Ravens are highly intelligent and will feed on a wide range of items including: carrion, eggs, mammals, other birds, insects and fruit and seeds. They are one of the few species to be seen on our hills all year round, finding food in all weathers and seasons.

Look out for these beautiful birds on the higher routes of the reserve next time you visit Dove Stone. You may be lucky and hear the deep cronk echoing around you.

Anonymous