Observation of common raven (Corvus corax) scavenging Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) from seabirds in the Canadian High Arctic


The common raven (Corvus corax) is one of the most intelligent avian species, known for its ability to scavenge from humans and other animals. This adaptive nature is critical in habitats where food can be scarce. The Arctic is such an environment, and optimizing associations with sources of prey is important. Large aggregations of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) in shallow waters provide a high energetic source for top predators such as seabirds and marine mammals, and consequently potential food sources for ravens. We document, to our knowledge, the first observations of a raven feeding on Arctic cod discarded by seabirds. This report supplements knowledge of ravens to opportunistically meet dietary requirements and the importance of Arctic cod to avian ecology in the Arctic.

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We thank Sam Simeone from Resolute for assistance in the field and allowing us to use his boat. We would also like to thank Kate Gardiner, Olwyn Friesen, Gretchen Lescord, and Geni Lipkey for advice and support. This research would not have been possible without the use of the Polar Continental Shelf Base and their staff including Martin Bergmann, Mike Kristjanson, Jodi MacGregor, Yvon Laroche, and Brenda Eckalook, as well as the Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers Association. Funding was provided by CFI and NSERC in association with the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) to T. Dick.

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Correspondence to Terry A. Dick.

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Matley, J.K., Crawford, R.E. & Dick, T.A. Observation of common raven (Corvus corax) scavenging Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) from seabirds in the Canadian High Arctic. Polar Biol 35, 1119–1122 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-011-1148-1

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  • Schooling
  • Foraging behaviour
  • Seabirds
  • Predation