I got word that Suk wasn’t working out for the free flight program at World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) in St. Louis. I didn’t get many details, just that it wasn’t working out and would we know any other prospective new home options for him. WBS I am certain did everything properly and correct they are an amazing organization, not every birdie is cut out for life in working with the public in free flight.
For anyone who doesn’t know who Suk is, there are several posts on my blog about him, he’s a Raven (Corvus Corax) that I worked with at a wildlife rehab facility…many long stories… but bottom line, he is a non-releasable bird, he was illegally imprinted, escaped and was rescued by a wildlife rehab organization. Because he was deemed non-releasable, the choices required by law are euthanization or education, I and a few others were able to get him added to an education permit and worked with him for a year, since then he’s been bounced around between a couple places in Washington, Oregon and Missouri.
Here’s a photo of he and I from dropping him off in Oregon for an evaluation in 2013
And a picture of him in training earlier in 2013 here in Washington.
Back to the story….
Here we go again… I thought, a fight to keep my friend alive. No one threw around the “e” word, but the thought was in my mind. The laws and policies are pretty clear, if a non-releasable bird can’t be used for education they have to be euthanized. It’s also challenging to get a bird approved for an education permit, which we were able to get accomplished with him and he is a great ambassador for his species, full of character, a natural educator.
My dear friend, Simone, a master falconer, rehabber and educator that housed Suk for a few months for training came up with a “pie in the sky” idea… She already had an educational permit for a couple of crows, so maybe we could add Suk to that permit and make me a sub-permittee. We ran it by Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and USFWS as a hypothetical, and they said it could be done. Some of the requirements were that we had to complete all the paperwork (not a small task!) , and then provide photos and detailed info of the aviary where he would be housed. The requirements for the living accommodations were rather daunting , as well they should be, for a fully flighted, large bird. The challenging part, is that you have to provide all of that before they will even consider the permit. So it’s a large investment on the hopes that your permit will be approved.
Many conversations, and maybe a little begging and pleading with Christy, we agreed that we’d make the leap. I would build an Aviary, and worst case, I could use it for other things if it didn’t work out.
We broke ground on December 12th 2015, construction continued mostly on weekends in my “spare” time through the wettest winter on record in western, Washington. Construction was 100% completed on March 16th Many thanks to James, Simone, Christy and Easton for the help with construction! Photos of the building were sent in with the hopes that the permit application would be far enough along so that it would be approved as soon as the pictures were received.
Well that didn’t happen….. So we sat with an empty aviary, complete with interior “decorations” to entertain and provide enrichment for a corvid. The state permit was finalized as soon as the photos were sent. It’s the Feds that we were waiting on. Sadly the USFWS is underfunded and short staffed, so patience and understanding is needed as we really do want and need their hard and important work to be thorough and accurate. We had tried to be proactive and submit everything but the photos ahead of time to help them out and hopefully help us out in the long run, ultimately we want to help out Suk and provide him with his forever home and have him become an ambassador for Corvids, to educate and promote understanding for a highly misunderstood species. But they say good things come to those who wait! It also gave us a chance to stockpile enrichment items, food & check, recheck, check again, clean and check again the aviary… ( I check it every day, I figure it’s a good habit to be in for when the time comes)
Here is a ~40 second timelapse video of the build progress, this is looking west on our property
Here is a longer video of the construction, complete with a walk-through tour at the end.
Since this video was completed, there has been a couple coats of paint on the exterior plywood and trim added along with more enrichment items.
On May 19th , we got an email from WBS saying how does next week look for completing the transfer and shipping Suk here… Huh? Wait, what? Do you know something we don’t? We haven’t gotten the permit yet.. Well the transfer orders came in from USFWS… hmmm maybe it’s in the mail… nope… nothing in the mail. Got copies of the transfer paperwork, signed by USFWS authorizing the transfer, so now it appears we’re waiting on the USPS …….. but it’s safe to say that it’s obviously happening!!
Here’s a short video of what it looks like now, ready for move in day
May 23rd the Permit arrived and plans were made for the actual transfer logistics.
So without further ado ( drum rolls, trumpets, horns, party hats, maybe even tin foil hats) , I am announcing the purpose of the Aviary! ( for real this time, not like my terrible attempt at an April fool’s joke)
The Aviary is to be the home of Sak’alus, Informally known as Suk. He is going to be an educational ambassador, he will be in training for his expeditionary role for some time, but will be teaching through his social media accounts during the process. He will be arriving at his forever home on June 2nd , 2016!!!!!!
For educational purposes ONLY you can follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SukTheRaven/ or via his twitter account (Ravens are the largest of the song birds [Passerines] so yes they can tweet) https://twitter.com/SukTheRaven – no guarantees on frequency of posts , as the primary goals are to get him accustomed to his new home, and then get comfortable with things like his carrier for educational programs vet visits and the like , getting on to his scale and re-learning some skills for teaching about recycling, and showing his different parts, like how a Raven’s wings, beak and tail differ from those of other corvids, like the American Crow ( Corvus brachyrhynchos) and many other things.
*Please note at no time will Suk be displayed, or used in any manner that implies personal use or to promote or endorse any product, merchandise, goods, services, business or organization except for the educational activities associated with the permits he is registered under & will NOT be used for any commercial purposes. Suk is used/displayed by permission and under strict compliance of the permits granted to us by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)*
**Any box, container or item used for enrichment purposes were donated items strictly for enrichment and do not promote or endorse the product formerly contained within**
***All Housing, Displays, photographs, video, exhibition & possession is by permission and in strict compliance of the U.S Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Permits are located on location and properly filed with USFWS & WDFW***
As Always my friends,
Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love – http://wp.me/p2RcFA-3Z