If you want to see things like this you have to immerse yourself in the world the Feathered and Four-legged live in.

As the former owner of a wilderness trapline I spent most of my time in that environment.
One bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky I was making my way up Holliday Creek to my cabin at the forks to prepare for the winter trapping season. As I worked my way with my heavy pack up the creek I approached a large open slide area I had to cross. As soon as I left the forest cover and was in the open, I looked up to see three large billy goats above me. Even though they were at the top of an extremely steep 800m rock wall that extended from the other side of the creek into the alpine, they all stood up and watched my every step with wariness and alarm which I thought unusual.

As it was just after the 1st of September, it dawned on me that the LEH hunt in that area had begun and someone had probably hunted them from the fireguard approach on the front range. What mountain goats will do when disturbed is immediately move to the most inaccessible terrain possible like the sheer wall they were on and camp out for a few days. It took me about 15 minutes to cross the slide, at one point I sat for a breather, the goats never sitting or leaving their alert posture.

As I enjoyed a candy bar and cup of cold stream water I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye a small speck slowly gliding high up on the thermals heading downstream, as it approached from a distance I could begin to make out the form of a raven. I must have watched it glide effortlessly for at least one km never moving a muscle or a feather, wings outstretched and seemingly totally relaxed. As he came closer and closer I suddenly realized he was moving in the direction of the goats and curiously headed right towards them about 25 or 30 above their precarious perch in a completely motionless fixed position. To my shock and amazement I then witnessed something I could never imagine, the instant he flew between the sun and the billys he immediately turned his body on a 90 degree axis, then rolled back 180 degrees and continued a number of 180 degree flip-flops without moving the extension of his wings. He flip-flopped at least seven or eight times in this position faster than imaginable. What that did was to encompass the goats in riot of long, rapidly moving, expanding, contracting and terrifying strobe-like shadows moving out of the sun to resume his effortless glide. The result was three totally panicked billys all beginning to flee and on what was probably an 80 degree slope they slipped, slid and scratched to retain their footing and one actually fell but managed to somehow catch himself sending a cascade of rocks the entire 800m down into the creek…….Very close call.

Now I have heard stories about how Ravens have a sense of humor and will play pranks and I believe this is true…. However…..You will never convince me otherwise that this wise old bird was trying to make some meat as a fall from that height would have meant a dead goat! Why work for the wolf pack when you can have the whole pie to yourself ? Another amazing episode of life and death in the mountains, once again seen through the Eye of the Raven.

Chris D’Allesandro