(cont…) Rehabbing ravens is medically identical to what we do with birds of prey. Though their diets certainly differ, we treat their injuries just as we would with any other large bird. Ravens are unique among our larger patients, however, in the sense that they are easily able to cohabitate with another species, vultures. Raptors, on the other hand, can’t exactly be trusted around other species, for obvious reasons. Does that make ravens and vultures compatriots? Traveling companions? Drinking buddies? It’s more a case of practicality.
Vultures are unadulterated scavengers. Ravens do whatever seems most likely to score them a meal, including eating things that other animals, or speeding cars, have killed for them. Since scavenging in the wild usually places them alongside vultures anyway, we can safely maximize the use of our large flight cages by instituting our very own avian co-ed program when it comes to these two.
A raven’s eating behavior certainly screams “whatever is most convenient.” More accurately, though, ravens do whatever is most clever. Ravens are widely recognized as being intellectual standouts in the animal kingdom, and their wide range of dietary choices is testament to both their versatility and their intelligence. Ravens are a common sight at public landfills, because it doesn’t take them long to realize that there are all sorts of edible things to be found in our refuse. A landfill is a set location, though.
What is truly impressive is the way in which ravens take advantage of situations that aren’t constant, by learning the tell-tale signs that precede them. Ravens in Wisconsin, for instance, have shown themselves capable of recognizing gunshots in areas with heavy hunting, while ignoring any and all other loud noises. According to Cornell University, they respond to the gunshots because they correlate the report of the gun with the sudden appearance of food, in the form of either the carcass itself, or the gut pile left after the hunter field dresses it. As soon as they hear a gun go off, the ravens go in search of their new meal.
Liberty’s education ravens aren’t exposed to firearms, thankfully, but they find other ways to demonstrate their species’ uniqueness. Ravens are well known for their ability to mimic sounds, including the calls of other birds, and in the case of our ravens, certain words they’ve overheard from the many volunteers who care for them. It’s not only common, but a little unnerving, to be walking through Liberty’s rows of education enclosures and hear a voice saying hi to you from within. It’s a fitting greeting from a bird so uniquely able to look at the world and what it can offer, with an intelligent inquisitiveness that we usually believe is reserved for ourselves.