Awakened by the Baby

In these long days of summer, light gathers around 5 a.m. Rarely do we get up at that moment. But since we choose to not have curtains on our windows upstairs, if loud sounds occur, the combination of the two jar us awake. Today, the baby woke us up.

Wow, it's been a lot of years since I said that. Of course, in this case, it was a baby outside, and it happened to be one of the immature ravens. They have taken the scene by storm, and we are so enjoying observing them. The pair will land in our parking lot, and we'll notice the parents hanging back, perched on a truck bed or up in a tree. The adults observe the little ones and send out a gentle croak now and then. If one strays too far away, the elder will fly off to get it, and occasionally a scolding takes place. Most of the shouting matches come from the little ones themselves, however. They still go up to their mom, and scream--and I do mean Scream--at her with their beaks wide open. Demanding little cusses, I'd say.

It brought to mind the time some years back when our friend Nathan brought his little charge up here one weekend. He had rescued a baby bird that had been abandoned, and brought it into the house. His mom let him set it up in a box, and Nathan took on the task of nursing it. He named him Charlie, I believe, and set about learning the care and feeding of a baby bird. Charlie was a hungry little dude, and Nathan was kept very busy tracking down food for him. He was quite patient through the process, and answered every cry, no matter what time it occurred. When the family was scheduled to come up here, not long after the adoption, Nathan brought him along, hoping that we would take mercy on his plight and bend the no-pets-rule. How could we say no? Charlie stayed not-so-quietly in his box. Nathan continued to get up at all hours of the day and night to feed him. It was a good eye-opener to the clamorous ways of a fledgling.

While these ravens have not set up residence in a box right inside the lodge, sometimes I think they would like to. Yesterday, as I walked down the road, having picked up the mail, Junior was eyeing me up. I stopped, and he approached me. He came within five feet of my side, and then circled to the back. He came closer then, just four feet off, and I pondered the size of his beak. Although I've referred to them as babies and juveniles, in reality, they are nearly as large as their parents. The main difference is that their coloring is still a mottled brown on the upper part of the body. The wing and tail feathers have come in as a sleek black. This guy came so close, I could see that its brown feathers were still the downy baby feathers. It probably won't be long before we can't distinguish the age of any of them.

Greg got up this morning when the ruckus began, and looked out the window to see if the noisy one was visible. I shouldn't say noisy, as he was quietly speaking in that secret raven language that I would love to understand. Sure enough, he was down in front, happily playing with a crushed cedar log. He would pick up pieces, toss them around a bit, nudge them on the ground, and repeat the process. Is this universal? I recall my children doing similar actions. We've watched the siblings pick up sticks and play tug of war, and we've seen them fight over bits of food...those pizza crusts I talked about the other day. It's interesting to see their movements, imitating the actions of the parents, most likely, but in a tentative way. They are learning to use
their feet to hold down an object, while using their beaks to pry it apart. All the time, the parents perch and observe, as do we, I guess. So it's a learning experience for us all.

No sense in naming these guys, as soon they will look like all the other ravens that we see passing by. We do know where they live, in a large white pine near the gravel pit. Time will tell how friendly they continue to be.

*Photo credits to Addie--awesome shots!