If feeding the birds gets to be a chore, consider the diet Bernd Heinrich fed four young ravens over a four-day period:
- DAY ONE: One woodchuck and one snowshoe hare (roadkills frozen and then chopped up — skin, bones, guts and all — into bite-sized chunks and thawed before feeding).
- DAY TWO: Three red squirrels, one chipmunk, six frogs, eight chicken eggs (crunched up, shells and all).
- DAY THREE: Two gray squirrels, five frogs, six eggs, six mice.
- DAY FOUR: One hindquarter of a Holstein calf.
After that, Heinrich writes, the ravens’ appetites picked up.
Heinrich writes about the care and feeding of young ravens as part of his fascinating book, "Mind of the Raven," written in 1999.
If you’ve ever given a thought to raising a raven or two of your own, you really should read this book first.
Consider, for instance, the effect ravens can have a neighborhood relationships.
A fellow named Konrad Lorenz had a raven named Roa, Heinrich reports, who developed an unfortunate interest in the neighbors’ laundry. This occurred because Lorenz called his raven one day just as the raven was exploring said laundry. "He came, taking a small transportable item with him, a pair of panties," Heinrich writes.
Lorenz rewarded Roa the raven for coming when he was called. It’s easy to understand how the raven misinterpreted the meaning for the reward. Thereafter, he faithfully returned home carrying women’s underthings.
"Mind of the Raven" focuses as much on ravens in the wild as around people. Suffice to say that tracking ravens in the wild presents its own challenges.
It’s a look at a bird that has fascinated people at least as far back as biblical times. ("Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?" Job 38:41 says.) It might turn out to be more about ravens than I want to know. But I’m sure I’d rather read about them than climb up a pine tree to check on their young for myself, as Heinrich is wont to do.
You can check out "Mind of the Raven" at the Duluth Public Library … or could if someone didn’t already have it.