Now 36 days old, Odin the raven chick is at the age he would fledge the nest if he was in the wild and is certainly behaving much more like a grown-up raven! The change in both his appearance and his also behaviour in such a short time has been astonishing. The heat lamp is no longer needed and he is now eating by himself! This type of bird, if allowed, would stay a baby forever and would accept hand-feeding indefinitely – so around a week ago, to encourage him to start feeding himself, we provided a bowl with a few pieces of food.
The naturally curious nature of ravens meant that he investigated straight away and within a couple of days he was picking bits up and dropping them. On Tuesday, after his 7am and 10am feeds, a bowl of food was provided and we skipped his usual 1pm feed… by 2pm he had cleared the entire contents of the bowl and has been eating on his own ever since!
We are also bathing Odin with water once a day to encourage him to use his preen gland. He’s become very good at preening his feathers, actually, and has spent up to 10 minutes at a time pulling bits of the remaining feather sheaths off and then arranging the feathers to where they should be before he gets worn out and has a nap He now has a lot of glossy black feathers showing and is really beginning to look like a Raven.
So far, he hasn’t attempted to fly, although we have noticed him doing the ‘stood still but vigorously flapping wings’ more and more so it won’t be long now! He’s also become proficient at a very cute two-footed hop! This week, we have prepared a small aviary for him, it’s effectively a mini outdoor aviary raised around 3 feet off the ground and it’s sheltered on 2 sides. Odin has a nice big stick nest (to continue strengthening his legs and to help prevent Bumblefoot) and 2 perches at different heights so that he can practice jumping up onto them and from one to another.
Developing Odin’s intelligence and capacity to learn and problem-solve is really important so this will begin straight away. Foraging food toys, particularly those where he has to find a solution to reach the food, will be provided. Seeing as Odin is now capable of eating without our assistance, he is no longer coming home each evening and instead is staying in indoor quarters with a soft astroturf base (again for the benefit of his feet) where the other birds of prey are housed at night. He is certainly missed at home already, but I really made the most of his company while he was here; Odin sat on a cushion on my lap the other night while I watched Men in Black! He slept for a while, preened, and tried to pull the stitching out of the cushion!
We all know, even if we’re not a parent ourselves, how exciting a child’s first tooth, first word, first steps, first everything is! But NOW I think I really get it. Last week Odin produced his first pellet and I was so thrilled and proud of him!! For those of you unfamiliar with pellets, many bird species produce them, not solely ‘birds of prey’ – they often eat an entire prey carcass; including bones, fur, feathers, exoskeletons of insects etc. so over usually around 10 hours after eating, a pellet forms within their crop, containing all the ‘unwanted’ bits, and this is then regurgitated (in falconry this is known as a ‘casting’, also the phrase is often used that a bird has ‘cast’ its pellet). This is another sure sign that ‘baby Odin’ is becoming Odin the handsome grown-up Raven!