Can ravens talk?

I’m reading Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge. The title character has a talking raven, who says things like, “'Halloa, halloa, halloa! What’s the matter here! Keep up your spirits. Never say die. Bow wow wow. I’m a devil, I’m a devil, I’m a devil. Hurrah!” Poe’s Raven said only, “Nevermore.” In Norse mythology, the god Odin had two ravens who could talk, because Odin had split their tongues.

Can ravens learn to talk IRL – with or without slit tongues?

Yes, ravens and other related birds, including crows and magpies, can be taught to mimic human words. So can starlings.

Well, crows can, and many other birds can, and ravens aren’t too different from crows. So given that there are a lot of stories about talking ravens, it’s probably more likely that they can than that they can’t.

The tongue-cutting thing is just a myth, though: All it does is really hurt the bird, and any bird that can talk afterwards could have talked before, too.

… only now, he’s got something to talk about…

Thank you, Mr. Bierce.

They’re not as likely to pick up a wide variety of phrases as parrots do, and most people find their voices to be unpleasant in tone compared to more typically talky birds, but ravens and crows can be pretty impressive mimics of all sorts of sounds. They’re supposed to be extremely intelligent (for birds) too.

Since they’re not an unusual sight and they’re not affectionate in the way many tropical birds are, you’re unlikely to see them in a bird act. I know they were once thought of as suitable for keeping in captivity, but I haven’t read anything current that suggests that. (Which I’ll admit is a bit disappointing- I think crows are gorgeous, and would love to have one, but I’ll stick to fancy chickens rather than risk being cruel to one.)

I’ve seen it forsthand. At a zoo in Lansing Michigan in 1990 I saw a Raven who had been taught to say “Nevermore”. They also had a crow who said “Hello”.

Of course, I can’t answer the question “Can ravens be taught to spell?” :smack:

My buddy took in an injured baby starling, which learned how to talk. Cool little bird. She leaves it in a room with a radio on, so it tends to say the choruses of pop songs.

When I went to grade school, our mascot was “The Crows”. They then went on to make it generic by naming us the “Eagles”.

The reason we had “The Crows” was that there was a nice lady whose yard abutted the playground, and she had a pet crow named Albert. Albert knew about 100 words, and would ask children to “throw marshmallows” to him.

She had taught it “Nevermore”, naturally, and it also woudl whistle the Popeye theme song (the hornpipe-thingy).

Great bird.


And if they can, would they use writing desks?

Beat me to it!

Nevar, if the wrong end is put in front.