Poe

If you love something, let it go. If it does not come back to you, it was never meant to be yours. If it comes back to you, it is yours.

Our neighbours, Richard and Vicki Hancock, who live down the road from us in Tagish observed a flock of Common Ravens mobbing a single Bald Eagle over Tagish Lake, which is a common sport among Ravens. The eagle glided with amazing speed across the lake but was not fast enough to escape the dives from the raven family. They all love to mob eagles for fun, but as the saying goes: It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Sometime after our friends saw this spectacle, they discovered a young raven with a broken wing hanging out on the lake shore.

Poe With a Broken Wing

Richard and Vicki watched him for almost two weeks ( None of us knows if Poe is a he or a her, but we all call him a “he”.). The little raven liked to hang out in their yard because it was sheltered and beside the lake, plus they would give him table scraps to eat. He would hop and waddle across the lawn dragging his broken wing on the ground beside him and go after the food that was tossed in the driveway for him, and often his family would join him. His family would not steal a single bite of food from him; they would spend time with him playing, singing, or talking. There was no hope of survival for him without help with his broken wing. That is when our neighbours called my little brother and sister, Toren and Sabrina, as well as myself over to try to catch him so he could be taken to a vet.

We went over the next day and walked around with Vicki looking for the raven. Once we found him we left Toren and Sabrina to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t disappear again while Vicki and I brought over a big dog carrier. At first we tried to lure the raven into the carrier with food, but we realized that it might not ever work when he jumped on top of a stump and fell asleep. For an hour we waited patiently, being slowly and cruelly eaten alive by mosquitos and black flies. The only way that we were going to capture him was to herd him to a place that one of us could grab him. I waited with the cage while Richard, Vicki, one of their friends, Toren, and Sabrina herded the raven down to the beach until Vicki called for me. When I found them, they had formed a tight circle around the young raven so he couldn’t escape and I grabbed him. From that moment on, anytime he had to be caught I was always the one chosen to grab him because I am in training to be a bird bander and am more comfortable handling them than anyone else. In consequence, I’m sure that to the raven I am always known as “That One”.

We brought the raven home in the dog carrier and put him in my Mom’s garden with towels over the carrier to make it dark. He rested there for the day until Mom had gotten back from town, then he was set loose in the enclosed garden for the weekend. Mom made an appointment with a vet at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve for Monday to have his wing checked out. We all hoped that it would heal successfully, so that one day he would be able to fly again. Over the weekend we all became very attached to the raven, but we tried to have as little contact with it as possible so it would stay wild. His antics were very comical; he would pull weeds and toss them in the air, sit on his perch and sing what he probably thought was a beautiful melody, and propel himself wildly across the garden with his wings when he was nervous. His broken wing was always getting in his way and he was constantly flipping it over his back only to have it fall to the ground again. Vicki told us that his family had panicked when they visited Vicki and Richard’s house and could not find their baby. They screamed for him and searched the entire neighbourhood. The day after he was released into the garden his parents found him. They sat with him on his perch and foraged with him, but they never, ever took any food away from him. In fact, they dug up some of Mom’s onions from her vegetable beds and put them in the young raven’s enclosure for him to eat.

Garden Enclosure

On Monday we brought him to the vet in the big dog carrier. After giving his wing a through examination and a bandaging, she told us that the raven would never fly again. She gave us a few options: we could have him put down, release him at a landfill after his wing healed and hope for the best that he survives, or we could take care of him. At a landfill he would likely die because ravens often have to fight for their food, and a flightless raven would not stand a chance. The landfill in our community, Tagish, is a food source only to birds that fly because the trash is tossed in large storage containers. Coyotes and other animals would jump at the opportunity to have a young, helpless raven for dinner. We chose to take care of him. That evening when he was safely back in his garden enclosure he went to work on his bandage. Within an hour the raven had pulled the bandage off of his wing, but in the process had pulled out several wing feathers and had the bandage tightly wrapped across his neck. The bandage was obviously causing more harm than good so we took it off of him.

Tree Enclosure

Our plan was to let him stay for a few weeks until his wing had healed in the bandage. Instead we kept him for only a few days longer after taking him to the vet before we opened the gate to the new enclosure we had built for him. We built the new enclosure the day after the vet. This enclosure was built in the trees, and was tall but not very wide. The goal was that this would help him learn to climb trees. He was comfortable with all of the steep climbs in a few days, so Mom decided that it was time. She opened the gate out his new enclosure while he was inside, and stood back. He hopped up to the open gate, his wing dragging pathetically on the ground beside him. A sparkle of curiosity appeared in his shiny, intelligent eyes. He flipped his wing over his back only to have it slide right off again, and hopped through the gate into the forest. We watched, hoping that he would survive as a flightless bird and learn to climb trees for safety, but also very sad that he was leaving. In the short time that he had been with us he had become almost a member of the family. Everyone adored him; he was like a little kid. His absence created a thick cloud of strange silence in our yard. No more “happy songs” and content cooing from his corner of our property.

If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back to you, it was never meant to be yours. If it comes back, it is yours.

He came back!

He left for three days, and we worried about whether or not he was a small, cold pile of black feathers laying somewhere out in the forest. It is very dangerous for a flightless bird out in the world. On the third night of his disappearance he came skipping down the trail across the road from our house. He stopped at the road, looked both ways, then quickly crossed and came into the yard heading straight for his favorite perch in his enclosure. The gate is always open, he can come and go as he pleases. We started putting food in his food dish in the enclosure again to help him gain some weight and kept a full water dish for him. We started calling him Poe, after Edgar Allan Poe’s story, “The Raven”, and well as these little ghosts in the Legend of Zelda video game called “Poes”. He learned his new name very quickly and would always listen to us if we said it. His favorite word ever, is “food”. He knows what that means! If any of us goes outside with table scraps and call: Poe! Want food, Poe?” he comes running. Well, mostly skipping. He has such character, and because he is a hatch-year raven is very playful. He has a happy song, which he sings when he is either tossing sticks in the air or is on our log fence stripping it of bark. He waddles (waddles, not swaggers. His wing prevents him from doing that swagger that most ravens do.) around the yard acting like he owns the place. As far as he is concerned, he owns our woodpile in the backyard. He is still nervous around me because I am “That One”, but slowly he is beginning to warm up to me.

Poe is a wild raven, coming and going as he pleases but is still very much a part of our family. Well, in our minds he is part of the family. In his mind we are the providers of food but that is all. He uses us to his advantage! All of our neighbours keep an eye out for him and watch out for any danger; without even trying Poe has captured everyone’s hearts just by skipping through their yard singing his happy song. He is a very special raven in a unique situation. I hope that he will live a long time and always stop by visit.

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3 responses to “Poe

  1. We had a similar situation with a raven in our yard, but with not such a happy ending. He had to be put down. I’m sure that Poe is very grateful to you for helping him out and letting him live a little longer. Good luck with your new friend. A great story.

  2. Pingback: First Days of Winter | beakingoff·

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