A Young Raven’s Recovery

Some species can’t help but become special to people. Especially if that species is the one who brought people into the world in the first place, as is the case with Raven:

 “According to Haida legend, the Raven found himself alone one day on Rose Spit beach, on Haida Gwaii {ed. briefly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands}. Suddenly, he saw an extraordinary clamshell at his feet, and protruding from it were a number of small creatures. The Raven coaxed them to leave the shell to join him in his wonderful world. Some were hesitant at first, but eventually, overcome by curiosity, they emerged from the partly open clamshell to become the first Haida.” (more here)

Because of this existential debt, whenever it happens that we admit a Raven for care at our wildlife clinic in Humboldt County, our mission to serve all native wildlife in need or jeopardy is brought into even higher relief.

This young Raven (Corvus corax) was just learning to fly when her rescuers found her struggling on the ground with what appeared to them to be a broken wing. They put her into their chicken coop for safekeeping where they said the young bird’s parents saw her and stayed near. They brought the fledgling in to our clinic the next day.

[We need to meet our goal for August of $7000 – we have $5000 to go! You can help! Every donation, from $5 to $500 helps! Please contribute today!]

Fortunately, the Raven had suffered no broken bones. We did find a couple of puncture wounds, including one on her right wing that had damaged a few feathers, that we cleaned and treated with antibiotics, but nothing was found that wouldn’t heal in time.

CORA-jul-aug-2016 - 2 of 18On examination no broken bones or other traumatic injuries were noted.

In fact, her wounds healed relatively quickly. Less than two weeks after the Raven was admitted we contacted the rescuers to arrange an attempt to re-unite the fledgling with her family.

When she was admitted, the Raven was not old enough to be on her own, still requiring parental care. After her wounds had healed, we still felt that more time with her family would be necessary. Re-uniting corvids (Corvidae is the family of birds that include Ravens, Crows, Magpies, Jays and Nutcrackers) is a fairly easy thing to do. All corvids have strong family bonds as well as strong bonds of affinity (friendships). If the parents’ location is known, returning one of their kids is a very straightforward proposition.  Find the parents; let the young one out of the box where they can see her or him; stand back and watch.  As with most families, they are excited to be together again.

Unfortunately, for this Raven, the parents were not in the vicinity. We spent a few hours looking, but night was falling and without knowing with certainty that her parents were present, even though the rescuers had said that they’d seen them earlier in the day, we couldn’t leave the youngster to fend for herself overnight. Reluctantly we took her back to our clinic.

We had planned to try another re-unite attempt, but after a few more days, a troubling development was seen. A scab had formed on the upper bill (maxilla) of the Raven that had some similarities to avian pox lesions. Avian pox, while not threatening to people, is a very common, highly communicable disease among the corvids of Humboldt County. Making the situation worse, the Raven was housed with four Steller’s Jays. Avian pox is treatable, but it is definitely not something that we’d want to spread to our other patients. We put the Raven and the Jays under strict quarantine until we could determine if they had contracted the virus.

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Version 2Raven and one of four Steller’s Jays in an aviary under quarantine. Eventually, the quarantine was lifted and all birds were given a clean bill of health.

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CORA-jul-aug-2016 - 11 of 18Our new aviary is good place to learn to fly, but a bad place to live forever!

We kept these birds of a feather together in quarantine for 2 weeks. Not only did did they not show any signs of the virus, the scab on the Raven revealed an infected pocket of encapsulated puss (ick!) that stemmed from her original injuries. The Jays were released and the Raven spent another 10 days being treated.

Through the ten days of treatment, this Raven was no doubt frustrated. A juvenile with boundless energy and enthusiasm, what her body needed, recuperation, and what her mind needed, stimulation, movement, learning in the wild, were at odds. We gave her plenty to eat and monitored her condition closely. Finally, the swollen pocket was significantly reduced in size – she’d been off antibiotics for several days and was improving. We decided that we should consider her for release.
Version 2What this Raven doesn’t know is that this will be the last time she will ever suffer the indignities of the net!
CORA-jul-aug-2016 - 8 of 18A thorough examination on release is the bookend of the thorough examination we give on admission. Here her feet are inspected to be sure that no captivity-related problems are going to interfere with her ability to thrive in the wild. Captivity is very hard on wild animals. We resort to it only when their lives depend on treatment.
Version 2Is there anything more beautiful than a healthy young Raven?

The Raven passed her release evaluation with flying colors! We took her back to the neighborhood of her family, even though they may have moved on. Her siblings, her parents still might frequent this area however and there remains a good chance she will re-join them. But for now, she is ready to take on the world with her own skills.
Version 2All Ravens think “outside the box.”

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Version 2Freed from us and far enough way to stop and consider what next she might do with her hard won freedom!

Over the course of time immemorial, no doubt Ravens have had the opportunity to question the wisdom of bringing people into the world. Even with all that our society, and some individuals have done to Ravens, and the wild – the injuries, the killing, the destruction and so on, we hope that we can somehow redeem ourselves in their eyes – that we can find ways to mitigate our crimes against Mother Earth, and restore some balance to our relationship. It isn’t easy. And without you we couldn’t even try. Thank you for helping us make things right with this young Raven, and all Ravens, and all of our patients.

If you’d like to help, please check out our volunteer opportunities, and also, please contribute to our August fundraising goal of $7000. We are halfway through the month and still have $5000 to go! You can make a difference. All contributions go directly to our mission of providing direct care for injured and orphaned wild animals and helping reduce human/wild conflicts as well as helping other rehabilitators across the state and nation provide quality care. Your support means everything to us!  Thank you!!!

All photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX