Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Three Little Ravens

Tuesday June 12 2007

Last year in the spring, 3 little Ravens fell out of their nest along Pickett Creek. Neighbor Linda (now next door to Carol, who's next door to us) found them after a windstorm blew them out of their nest. They were sitting on the ground on the bridge over the creek on her new property. The parents were still trying to feed them, but the little ravens were sweltering in the heat, dehydrated, and in very bad shape. Linda called up Carol next door, who drove over in her black pickup; they bundled up the little ravens, and drove a few miles downstream to Linda's (now old) house. The parent ravens were frantic, watching Carol's truck drive away with their babies, but, without human intervention, it was quite clear the little ravens would have died very soon.

Linda and Carol used eyedroppers to get water down them, and Linda kept them at her house. Carol drove home, and later in the day got back in her pickup to drive into town, and the parent ravens followed her truck all the way down the creek into Oreana – she said it was quite eerie. “How they could tell my black truck from her blue truck, and know the babies had been in mine, was amazing.” They eventually figured out their babies were at Linda's place.

Linda, and her partner Mike, and Carol all pitched in to feed the baby ravens – at first dog food soaked into a mush, and bird food, which is higher in protein, and eventually just about anything, including chicken, and tuna, “the smellier the better.”

At first Linda kept them inside as they needed to be fed several times a day, and she even took them to an endurance ride or two, because the hungry babies needed to be fed constantly. “They were all mouth,” said Carol, “big pink mouths,” which must be their attractant for the parents to put food right in the target – down their throats. Eventually Linda kept them outside in a big cage, till they were able to hop and flap around. By that stage, they were no longer so tame they'd sit in Linda's hands, but they would land on Linda's and Mike's heads.

Linda has a big menagerie of dogs and goats and horses and mules; the ravens were just another part of the family. Eventually, one of the ravens disappeared, and they never saw it again. Later in the summer, Mike and Linda found one drowned in a water trough, a very sad event.

That left Hoss. Hoss the Raven kept hanging around, getting fed, growing up with the farm animals. One day he was gone, and later that day another neighbor further down the creek toward Oreana called, “Linda, I have your Raven!” She said he looked disoriented and was hungry, so she fed him dog food. When Linda showed up with her bowl of treats, she said Hoss was so happy to see her, he followed Linda right to her truck and flew back home with her. He was still so starved when they got home, Linda kept feeding him... and feeding him. “He just kept eating, so I just kept feeding him. I mean, what the heck.” The next day, Hoss was gone, seemingly for good.

That might have been the end of the Picket Creek Raven stories, but months later, Hoss returned. Of course, all Ravens look pretty much alike to human eyes, but this had to be Hoss, because he'd hang out at Linda's place on the fence, or on the goats' backs, like he always did. He wouldn't allow himself to be touched anymore, but he'd hang out much closer than any other raven might have, and he was unbothered by human presence. And, he seemed to have brought a girlfriend with him.

Carol says he's still hanging out in this valley – often it's the two of them. Hoss or both of them will stop by her place early in the mornings and croak and caw a while. She'll also often see a Raven or two when she's out riding, and he'll often come quite close. She's sure it's Hoss, coming to check on her.

The first time I took a horse out riding when I got back here this visit, I saw a raven alight on a hillside. It really looked like he was doing nothing but watching me, so I yelled, “Hi Hoss!” at him. Another time Carol and I were riding, and we saw a raven circling high above. I yelled, “Hi Hoss!” again, and the raven flew down to have a look at us. It might not have been Hoss, because sometimes Ravens can be quite curious, but chances are, it was him, because there aren't that many ravens that hang around this drainage. Once a day or so, I see 2 ravens hanging out in one particular dead tree by our creek. I go out there to right under the tree with my camera, saying, “Hi Hoss!” The two look at me, and go about their raven business, cawing and hollering, preening, ducking from little birds or kestrels that are quite perturbed they are hanging out in the wrong spot.

We humans think we are so smart, that we have everything figured out. We forget that we take and take and take from the planet, things that will never be replaced, and things that just won't continue to sustain us with our steadily growing population – do the simple math. Carol and I have always thought that as soon as we humans destroy ourselves and the planet, the Ravens will inherit the earth. They are the clever ones. They've been out there since the creation of the earth (they are mentioned in the Bible several times; it was Ravens that fed Elijah in the wilderness), and they'll be around long after we've taken everything till there's nothing left for us, and they'll still be having a great time. I can only think that we Pickett Creek humans all have good Raven karma, through Linda's and Carol's good raven deeds, (and through my obsession with Ravens), so who knows, maybe we'll get to come back as Ravens one day...

P.S. The great photos are all from Linda and Mike and/or Carol!

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