Edgar and Other Ravens

Article and photos by Annette Bays, additional photo by Kingfisher888

Read Time: Three Minutes

Do you know how smart ravens are, how agile, and curious? Well, I’d like to tell you a little about these remarkable members of the Corvid family in general, and then more specifically about Procyon’s permanent resident raven, Edgar.

To begin with, ravens are as smart as the average seven year old child (or a gorilla). They have the ability to reason and plan, and are self aware. Not only can they use tools, they can create them. They’ve been seen performing acrobatics in the air. They can figure out complex puzzles. They have been known to co-operatively hunt with wolves. They can recognize faces for decades, and hold a grudge, or like you if you are nice. Ravens are highly vocal in the wild, and in captivity have been trained to say many words. They can mimic a human voice exactly.

Did you know a flock of ravens is called an “unkindness”? This seems to stem from some common Native American mythology wherein ravens are known as mischief makers, possibly due to the belief that ravens symbolize change and transformation, therefore are tricksters. But they also apparently represent ancient wisdom, intelligence, and honesty, and are seen as prophetic messengers from the spirit world. I like to think they are a good omen, a protective spirit, as is also a common belief.

Now on to Edgar. On December 9th of last year, he found a permanent home at Procyon after a long recovery process during which he had to have a portion of his wing amputated, and his lower mandible had to grow back.

Edgar can’t be released back into the wild since he will never fly again, but he is too old to be fully tamed, therefore a balance must be found. This is the challenge facing Crystal (Procyon’s Animal Care Director) and her team. Fortunately, unless ravens are with a family group, they are generally a solitary bird, so Edgar won’t be missing his “unkindness”. He isn’t too concerned with having human company either it seems. According to Crystal, he is timid and quiet, albeit a little curious, when approached by adults, but interestingly, he responds vocally when he hears children. He has been heard making a few different vocalizations when he is alone as well. 

Crystal is taking it slow with Edgar so as not to stress him, but having no incentive to work for his food and having so many loving attendants, he is tending to over eat. Again, a balance must be found. He will be offered puzzle feeders to give him a challenge. And recently they have acquired cards which offer colour cues to teach him to recognize the purpose for which a particular person is entering his enclosure. This way, for instance, he won’t stress if he knows the person wearing green is there to feed him versus the person wearing white who is there to give him an examination (a stressor).

Hopefully he will soon become less anxious in close proximity to humans, so he can be more interactive and lead a fuller life. I will follow up on Edgar’s progress in future articles. Looking forward to hearing his first words. 

Edgar and Other Ravens
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