Going Wild

More and Never didn’t roost at home last night.  But we think we know why.

While on his run yesterday, Kerry spied six ravens in the wash tributary by his house.  He displayed some raw elk meat (leave it to a downeaster to be running around with raw meat in his pocket), but none of the ravens were interested.

Later though, after he had fetched Poe from the wash, two split off from the pack and landed right next to him.  For the second day, Poe and More had been hanging with the adolescent flock!

Earlier I thought I had heard the sing song call near our house which now seems quite possible.  The new routine for Never and More now includes some house time (they like picking through the chicken feed and hanging with Poe), and lots of away time.  They’ll come and go during the day.  When they get bored at our house, they’re just as soon to take off and maybe check out Kerry’s or to go off elsewhere, presumably with the other birds.  If they can keep it up, we all will be quite happy.

More questions, though.  What’s the normal routine for the other adolescents?  Are they always in a pack?  Do they split off into singles and pairs as well for part of the day and then recongregate?  Are they roosting communally?

Do they perhaps have a set feeding period in which they all split off to find food individually (less competition for a single resource)?  More and Never know right away where there’s some good pickings – they can get free water and lots of scavengy refuse from the yard and compost.  They also like the chicken feed.  The other birds may go off in different directions and catch as catch can.  They may then recongregate in the afternoon for hang out time.  Lots yet to figure out.

As for Poe, we’ve decided that  since we’re no longer leading More and Never to the wash, he might as well stay at home in the yard to recoup his strength.  If More and Never are out and about, he’s basically alone down there and it doesn’t seem to push him to develop strength.

He’s a sitter and observer.  At least in the yard he has the stimulation of the other animals.  And the approaching dogs sometimes keep him moving, which is good.  We also have more chances to incent him to flap his wings and get a move on it.  I fear, though, that he may be settling into his crippled mode and perceiving himself as disabled.

That dang bird.  I love him so.

I’ll have to look into adaptive skiing programs.

Poe Learning © Andrew Lewis

Mowgli

This morning, Poe alone in the yard.  No Never.  No More.

In the west toward Floyd’s field, a mile distant, I heard a few calls.  I suspected it was More and Never, but wasn’t sure.  Two days ago on the walk back from the wash, a solitary raven did a fly over.  Poe (in my arms) was the first to catch sight of him and struggled excitedly.  One of our ravens observed where the wild one landed and flew over to join him.  The second raven soon followed.  Never and More had taken off to join one of the wild ravens.  Since it was solitary, we assumed it to be one of the parents.  And there they remained together, all three flitting about in the desert and getting acquainted.

At dusk, Never and More returned and settled in for the evening.

So now, this morning, I have little doubt that the two are off with their new found friend.  But lo, what do I see approaching?  What appear to be six adolescents, dipping, soaring, circling around one another as they approach the house, all the while calling out playfully (more on this in the next post).  I step to the back yard just as four of the ravens settle onto the rise beyond our yard.  And there are Never and More perched on the fence.  The wild ravens continue to call.  It’s not defensive, but more like a summons:  come out and play, join us, why are you sitting on the fence?  But More and Never don’t respond.

I swaddle Poe and set out toward the wash, hoping the other two will follow, (as part of the on-going experiment, I don’t overtly lead them with food this time, waiting to see if they’ll just follow Poe) but they remain where they are, tired perhaps from their morning exertions.  The four wild ravens, however, follow (and lead) us out, and eventually settle in the brush on the far bank while I put Poe in his customary place beneath the tree.  I feed him and he turns to face in the direction of the other birds.  I also leave meat out for them, hoping to attract them to Poe.

I feel like a doting parent trying to introduce my child to new friends on the first day of pre-school.  Please, I want to say, he’s a good bird.  Please, will you be friends with him?

Poe, Alone

We’re trying to help the ravens return to their kind.  But it’s hard.

They’ve all had a good number of Wepo Wash days.  We have to carry Poe, but Never and More will go back and forth between our house and the wash at will.  At dusk, though, they return home to the ramada to roost.

Yesterday was blazing hot.  We were to be gone into the evening and so didn’t take Poe out because we wouldn’t be able to retrieve him before dark.

Never and More didn’t leave either, though. Instead they chose to hang around with Poe.  It could have been that it was just too dang hot (all the birds sat around, following the shade, their mouths gaping open as a cooling response).  Or it could have been that they enjoyed being in close proximity to water.

Or perhaps they just wanted to be with Poe.  A couple times when one or the other of the dogs approached him (Poe tends to hang out on the ground), the other two alighted near by and cawed defensively.

When I returned that evening though, More and Never were nowhere in sight.  For the first time, they chose not roost at the house.  A good thing, I thought.  But that left Poe, alone, roosting on the back of one of the porch chairs.  The dogs sniffed at him and he was safe, but I thought it not good for him to become too comfortable with our house.

I carried him over to a log leaning against the ramada and he clambered up it in an ungainly way.  It wasn’t too comfortable of a roost and he had to work to stay balanced, so I brought the ladder over and he soon alighted on that.  He took to his customary habit of staring off silently into the desert, as if awaiting for someone or something.  He’s one to always look out, away from even his siblings.  I wish any of you could experience his gaze, so solitary and at once both hopeful and resigned.

I lay in the hammock, looking up at the stars.  And I talked to Poe.  And he murmured back.  I felt sad and worried for him, stuck with my meager human company.  He needs to get better.  He needs to fly.  Or soon he will be left behind, first by his siblings and then the other ravens.  And then even by us.  It felt too unjust.  Too undeserving.  And with only that, he and I continued to wait.  We stared out into space and that deluge of stars.

 

Born Free (sort of): June 21

And the odyssey continues:

This morning Cindy couldn’t get the ravens in the cage. No problem; with enough elk meat anything is possible. I just grabbed Broken Wing, wrapped him in a towel, and headed for the wash, feeding him tidbits as I went. The sibs couldn’t stand the thought of not getting their fair share, and they flew along quite nicely. Just left all three of them down there with water, and they seemed happy. Even more interesting is that at least four ravens did flyovers, and have perched just 100 yd. up the wash in the big cottonwood. Let’s hope that they talk today.

Today’s pix: #1 is the native birds settling in up the wash; #2 is a shot from the wash of that weirdo’s unit in Walpi Housing (what’s up with that guy and all the brush?); #3 is Broken Wing, my prize decoy, enjoying a well-earned drink.

Broken Wing is getting stronger and stronger; some very vigorous flapping today, apparently pain-free. Flying in 3 days? As I walked back up I was chuckling at the irony of your being at the bluegrass fest, surrounded by world-class musicians– and diving for your computer three times a day for updates on the ravens. I’m sure this will be used as evidence when they lock you away. . .

Native Raven © Kerry Hardy

Broken Wing © Kerry Hardy

Walpi Housing

The four wild ravens were either the other set of fledgelings or the two mating pairs.  Note the incongruity of our units in this setting (despite the groovy ramada).

And I’m fully ready to be committed on this one.  We’ve been encountering our share of bumps on the human side, starting with the forced removal from Health Care and continuing on to neighborly complaints.  But it only steels our resolve.  If we as a species are that removed from the environment around us, then it’s time to hone the edge and take it to the streets.  Time for us, perhaps, to reinhabit the wildness that is our own nature.

Scare Crow

Baby and Parent Flyover © Kerry Hardy

I love this picture for reasons other than the humor.

The house raven feels comfortable perching on the scarecrow.  The wash raven doesn’t.

That suggests that the dang things learn.  And if they can learn one thing, they can learn another.  A wash raven has learned to fear and distrust the human form and so it steers clear of it.  The house raven, though, has grown up perching on our shoulders.  It associates those shoulders with sustenance. To perch on a shoulder is no biggy.

The wash raven and the house raven probably consider one another deranged.

But what if farmer and animal got to know one another?  More, meet Lloyd.  Lloyd, this is More.

As for the farmer (I’m talking to you, Lloyd), behavior is malleable.  In what way can we encourage good behavior?  Is it possible to both preserve the corn and coexist?

Born Free (sort of) June 19

For those that have been following the saga, I’m providing Kerry’s notes, straight from the horse’s mouth.  If anything, they suggest the richness and nuances of the relationships, interspecies and otherwise.  Hurray for Kerry:

Big doin’s in the wash. When I took them down there, they got separated (because More freaked out a bit and got out of the cage) and were too skittish to recapture. So, I put the more timid of the two in the nest box which was about 150 yards away from where More was hiding in the sagebrush. I was pretty concerned about them finding each other, so a few hours later I went back down.

They were each exactly where I’d left them. I used water to coax Never(?) down out of the nest which he came to immediately. He seemed very affectionate, so I started squawking to him and walking towards More, and sure enough he followed– and meanwhile More was interested enough to fly and walk a bit closer, down into the cornfield.

My squawking brought two mature birds almost instantly; they did some real close flyovers.  Finally the two babies spotted each other– and I’ll tell you, it was quite touching to see them figure it out and hop together for a nuzzling. Palpable relief on all parts, myself included.

Then I walked back to the nest. Never followed along, and More did too at a safe distance. When we got back Never drank some more, and More almost dared to. When I gave Never some elk scraps and he went into full open-mouth-begging calls, More broke down and came over for his share too. So– they’re fed, watered, and both know where the nest box is, and they’re together (at least when I left them).

Lola and I sneaked away and they went off to explore the wash. Parents stayed in sight at all times– fingers crossed that they’ll adopt, rather than attack. Never even pecked and ate a bug at one point. If Broken Wing is still looking chipper tomorrow, I’ll take him down along with their breakfast. More heart-rending photos expected then. Enjoy these! A memorable Father’s Day, in its way.

Who needs TV.

Settling In © Kerry Hardy

Reunited © Kerry Hardy

Parent Flyover and Baby  © Kerry Hardy

Parent Flyover © Kerry Hardy