Huge Raven roost discovered in Belgium
A huge Raven roost has been discovered in Belgium this winter, with counts at the site breaking national records.
The roost was found in woodland at Môchamps, near Saint-Hubert in Wallonia, in December 2023. On 18 December, between 488 and 620 Ravens were counted at dusk – a new Belgian record count for the species.
Birds started arriving around 4 pm to settle on the tops of the tall beech trees, as reported by Ornithomedia. Some were identified as being pairs, but most were thought to be immature birds. Different groups continued to arrive until around 5 pm.
The Ravens flying to roost in Wallonia (Marc Fasol).
Raven returns to Belgium
Raven was lost from Belgium during the 20th century but was reintroduced to Wallonia in the 1970s. Since then, it has increased and spread, though the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Wallonia from 2001-2007 stated that the population was between 67 and 87 pairs.
It is thought that the remarkable numbers this winter at Môchamps could be linked to the presence of an abundant source of food – since autumn 2023, Wild Boar hunting activity has increased in the area and, in places, hunters have left corpses, which attract corvids and other scavengers.
According to Harry Mardulyn, a naturalist who has been studying Ravens in Wallonia for a decade, such a gathering is likely to be the result of birds coming not only from Belgium, but also neighbouring countries, thus confirming the social role of roosts.
Big British roosts
Large Raven roosts are not unheard of. In Britain, a roost has existed on Anglesey for more than 25 years and often exceeds 1,500 individuals in the winter months. It is thought to be the largest roost of the species in Europe. The species has recovered significantly across Britain in recent years, with a 43% increase in the national population noted between 1995 and 2020, according to the BTO.
You can find out more about Raven on our species profile page.