Groups of whales are called pods and groups of lions are called prides, but what is a group of ravens called?
According to Live Science, some people refer to a congregation of ravens as an “unkindness,” and shoppers at the Diamond Boulevard Costco in Anchorage, Alaska, are discovering why.
The Associated Press reports that ravens are descending upon shopping carts as customers exit the store and are flying off with their bagged goods.
One victim, Matt Lewallen, was packing his groceries into his car when a couple of birds stole one of his short ribs.
“I literally took 10 steps away and turned around, two ravens came down and instantly grabbed one out of the package, ripped it off and flew off with it,” the victim said (via The Associated Press).
Lewallen does not believe his experience was an isolated incident. “They know what they’re doing; it’s not their first time,” he added. “They’re very fat so I think they’ve got a whole system there.”
Anchorage Daily News reports that another Costco shopper, Marnie Jones, was loading her car with her husband when a sneaky raven snatched a fillet mignon they’d just purchased.
The couple didn’t realized they’d been burgled until they were unloading their groceries at home and discovered that one steak was missing from their four-pack. Looking at the punctured package, the husband recalled seeing “a raven in the parking lot with a steak in his mouth.”
In a message on Facebook, Anchorage resident Tamara Josey described her recent run-in with the birds.
I had two ravens, one that was on the car next to me and he kept squawking really loud, she wrote. He would sit on the car and stare at me, then hop next to the bed of the truck on the other side, and he kept going back and forth. The other raven was on the ground. He kept trying to pull — I had those little mini-melons you have in the mesh baggies — he kept trying to grab the netting and pull my melons off the cart. ... They are very dedicated to their mission, (via The Associated Press).
Rick Sinnott, a former wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, believes that a population increase in Anchorage has, in a way, refined the birds’ palates, Anchorage Daily News reports. More people means more garbage, and more garbage means more hot spots for the birds to try out.
“Ravens do very well in this city, but they much prefer — I would guess if I was thinking like a raven — a package of short ribs from Costco to half of a hamburger bun from McDonald’s,” he said (via New York Daily News).
According to Sinnott, ravens are social animals, and they’ve developed this behavior from years of observation.
“For years, decades, they’ve watched people in parking lots of grocery stores with all this food,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “They know what a piece of fruit looks like in a grocery cart because they’ve seen it on the ground or seen it in a garbage can.”