The Raven Formerly Known as Arty and I

Part 1

Dawn breaks ,  feathers  ruffle and preening begins.  The cold time is coming,  my breath is  visible from my  beak and there’s  slippery spots  on the flat places in my space… my space that I can’t figure out how to get out of…  I know there’s a way because the other ones like me come in from out there into my  space, invaders, abductors, some are scared of me  and I laugh at them  and torment them …until they put me in the  dark place…. I don’t like the   dark place……maybe today the  big one  that  gives me  eggs and lets me eat things from it’s weird talons  will come…I  don’t mind that one, it doesn’t put me in the dark place , it  plays with me  and makes lots of sounds to me, I want to make  those sounds  back to it, one of these days I will….. it brings me  fun things to play with, I like to play  with  other big feathers and  little  bloody wings…and find the seeds and  meat it hides in my other toys for me to find….I’m glad it’s not as  angry as  the first time I met it, when I took a  taste of the funny thing hangin’ on the side of it’s   head, I thought it was a toy and   a fun game… that one  didn’t think it was fun, I could tell……especially  when I  tasted the blood, toys  generally don’t bleed. Well  I’ll just  fly around in here and  play with stuff to warm up, too bad the  wet cold water is falling from the sky , maybe I’ll just hop around in this dry section and play in the dirt with the shiny rocks until  my flight  service is here….I just hope they  stop making that sound when the they walk by : “nev-er-mawr”…it’s  annoying me….

Part 2

That  same Dawn  breaks a bit further  south  and it’s   dang chilly out there! Mid 30’s  and rain…. Oh joy….well   that’s nature, especially in the  great Pacific Northwest! Just try to put yourself in the “talons or paws ” of the  Wildones at all the different   rehab facilities across the  world or the shoes of the angels that  work/volunteer at those places…   just imagine  the winter times and the challenges  they face to  care for and rehabilitate  the wildones….so it could  be much worse for me…so I’m not complaining,  actually complaining never  even crossed my mind…this is my “church”  time. The cold, the rain the wind , those are all just  lessons for me to learn from,  to think of  life  from the Wildones perspective….

You may remember my “promise” to myself,  Sarvey and the   Wildones and now also the  EDones  ( new term I’ve started using  because we have  wild  animals  as well as  Education animals  at  SWCC so they are Wildones and EDones  to me now J )  that promise  was to never show up empty  handed…. Just like  on a fire scene…. You never show up   to the  fire without  something in your hand…..be that hose, “irons”, pike pole,  axe,   whatever  you better have something….well since I now  know more about the  deer that are  at SWCC  getting rehabbed  (7 of them!!)  and what they need  daily to  “browse” ( the most important part of their diet for survival in the wild)   and what the  staff there does every single day to  provide that for them I thought  this time, I’m going to  bring  the browse for them and   save them some time and serious effort… so  grab my coffee and  a bottle of water and head to the garage…  just to grab the pruners and the  quarantine  cargo net ( if you don’t have one of these and you own a  truck…. Get one, they ROCK!!!  http://www.quarantinerestraints.com/exterior-nets/  jump in the  truck and  head to the woods…. I pull up   the  “what  do blacktail deer eat” on the Washington  Dept of Fish and wildlife website  http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/deer.html  and  start  looking for Alders and vine maple,  I get some  but this time of year  it’s hard to come by , but one thing that is   always   plentiful  ( and the deer love it, but I hate the plants) is   blackberry….. oh well gotta do what we gotta do for the   Wildones… so  some vine maple,  some alder, lots of blackberry and a little  cedar…that takes me  alone about 2 hours to get a truckload , get it covered with the quarantine and head on up the  road… hot and wet….  But it’s only 38 degrees Mikey…yes but I’ve  been workin’ my  tail off  so I’m hot and wet!!  Well if you recall the  previous nights   “story” ( Happy  Friendsgiving )  and how it ended with my  beautiful wife and I singing  Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard lights in the  truck on the way home   then you can relate to  me pulling out the   “Bat Outta Hell” CD for my   drive up to Sarvey!!..that  along with some George Thorogood and the Destroyers I’m rockin’ out in the rain  driving up  north… I arrive at SWCC and  undo the  cargo net so  someone else ( if they are ready  for it before I am)  can   take the  browse to the deer…. And I walk in the door to the clinic….SHUT THE DOOR!!!!! I hear…..  yikes OK I  jump in and close the door…. BIRD OUT they   say…. And lookin’ me  square in the eye  across the counter full of meat and veggies in  various stages of prep  is a Peregrine  Falcon in  full hover mode… interesting thing I notice though  ( and prior to a  few weeks  ago I never would have noticed this  right away, especially in this particular situation) is that this  falcon has  anklets on…. So my  blood pressure recedes a little…( can blood pressure  recede?  Not sure sounds  funny,  but you get the  gist…. It went down)  the  bird  flutters around and  lands on the ground  and a couple gals with  gloves on  grab it and  get it close to it’s   cage  before it takes off again… DUCK!! Wait no … FALCON!! So the round up  begins again….. they finally get the  falcon on a  glove and into Medical to get   an exam…. Turns out this is a  new  education bird that we are getting from a  falconer  I don’t know the whole story but you can bet your bippy when I know I’ll share it with you 🙂 …so   now that I am breathing again,   I can sign in and  go face the rain and  be with the Wildones and EDones…of course I start with the  Raven that I “used” to call “Arty”…. No longer….  We  need to  find a name for her  and I’m  offering up suggestions  to  the Education Director and the Primary  trainer for her….   But let me  back up  for a minute… if you read my last  “SWCC”  report   you’ll know that  I spent a lot of time   with her as I have since the   day she nailed me  in the ear….. call it my  initiation or  call it me  falling off the horse and getting back on,   or just call it me being stubborn and  enjoying a challenge, but   I truly feel  a connection with this   Raven…. She tasted my blood after all  ahahahaha…  so after I  got home on the night of the 4th of  November  from my last volunteer  trip up there, I sent  a “Plea” to  the Education  Director –  Here’s an excerpt from that email:

 “…I  was up there on Sunday volunteering and  spent a lot of time  (over an hour)  cleaning and  just bonding with  the Raven in the Big Maple  flight…. in  talking with [name left out]  and [name left out] they were saying that  most everyone else that  cleans  in there has to put  him/her ( do we know sex yet? ) in a  crate just to clean the flight… well  I don’t . After my 1st encounter with that  gorgeous  bird  I’ve been “working” with it every time I am there for longer and longer times building trust..I’m sure I’ve probably done some things that   I shouldn’t because I’m not properly trained on “training”  ed birds and I don’t want to stunt it’s  education at all but I really feel a  bond with that raven.. which is  odd because I’m a “raptor”  fanatic… well anyway  we ( the Raven and I) have what I feel is a mutual trust and respect  building and I  really want to continue building that relationship  but  obviously I need your approval  and I want to ask you, almost beg you  really to tell me what I can do  to “prove” myself and learn and  help with this bird… it’s hard to explain how I feel  but I think  ( I hope)  you  get what I’m saying…  maybe you could get a “reference” from [names left out] on how I feel and  “am”  with that  bird?..I’m a  very fast learner and  will buy any book or video or  whatever I need to  learn how to “train” a  Raven if need be….ok I think  you get  what I’m asking and the passion behind it…. But I respect your decision  no matter which what you decide and will continue to volunteer and look for opportunities to learn and  grow and  get the experience needed  over time as I know that’s what it really takes.”

The  response  I got  was  basically  a “YES” !!!  Only two  people are allowed to  work   on the training side of  the education  animals , others can prep them and stuff but  as far as bonding and training goes they keep it to  2….   And even though I’m  not officially on the  Ed team yet  she  gave me the approval with a  stern “I’m taking a  big chance trusting you with this”….. and  here’s how I responded:

“…Thank you more than I can ever  express for taking this chance with me.   I will not let you down…” “… [to the primary trainer] I  am completely at your service and eager to learn from you and  follow your lead! I am eager and willing to help this beautiful  creature become an ambassador for  her species! You may contact me anytime  day or night   and if I can help  I will. “

So  guess what?  I get to help train  an  educational  Raven for Sarvey!!!!! WOO HOO…now I just have to finish  the requirements to make it on  the  Education team officially!!! I’ve been reading and studying and practicing jessing,  I even made a contraption that   the Ed director , my wife and everyone else I’ve  shown it to thinks I need to patent… any  patent experts out there that want to help me???…..ok  well back to the present  ( 11/11  visit) ….

Part 3

I heard the nice one’s sounds..he’s here  somewhere, why hasn’t he  come to see me yet? Usually  I  hear his sounds and  then I see him , he usually  brings me a  treat, where is he….  This is frustrating ,I’m getting  upset  I’m going to  make some noise and  fly all around in my flight to  work off this   frustration… but when he get’s  here I’m going to  give him  a piece of my  bird brain.. unless he has a treat then I might be nice, but I’m still  a little  grumpy,  it’s cold, with water falling from the sky  and I heard him…..I  need  new  water for a  bath,   my place  is a mess and it needs cleaning, I have food but not my favorites so I’ll just fling it everywhere…… I think I’ll  relieve myself  all over  until he gets here, that will make him  stay longer….caw  caw  I see him coming  caw caw  , if I fly over  to the  way he comes in   maybe he’ll give me a treat through the  mesh stuff keeping me locked in here….. or maybe I’ll  fly up to the  perch above the door  to sneak out where he comes from  to be with him more… oh he’s  coming in  caw caw creeeuuuaaahh….oooh and he  brought me a treat…one of the fun oblong things like what I came  out of…. they are fun to  play with  and he makes funny sounds when I  take it from him and fly around with it…. Oh he wants me  on my flat spot before he gives it to me  ok…. Swoosh land and  caw… he makes  the  sound of “guhd gurhl, heer yoo goe preh-tee gurhl”…  take the  round yummy  fun thing from his  talons  I’ll fly over here  and  put it in the dirt for later… he  makes the “hahahaha” sound that  makes me think he is happy  so I’ll pick it back up and  oh I can’t wait any longer I’ve got to fly with it over here by  my  bathtub  and  crack it open on  this shiny rock…slurp..caw…slurp…nomnomnom   ..hey wait where are  you going  nice one?  Mmm this round thing is  yummy  I hope he comes back ….num num .caw…

Part 4

So  out I go to see “my” raven…. I know it’s not mine,  it’s the worlds… it doesn’t “Belong” to  anything or anyone other than mother nature, but I think she was  sent to  Sarvey to  help me in my life’s  journey,  thank  you Mother Nature… I take   her an egg for a  treat , she greets me with  a caw and  hops over to the  net by the door , then the perch above the  door and waits for me to come in… we’re still building trust …. So I’m  cautiously  optimistic. I ask her to  come to the flat perch and  when she does I say good girl, here you go pretty girl and give her an egg..she gently takes it from my hand, flies over to her  crate o’ dirt and   starts to bury it…. Silly girl…  I laugh at her and  she  unburies it and  flies with it over to her water dish and   sets it down and breaks it open and  starts enjoying the goodies…. Yeah I know it’s kinda  cannibalistic but  she likes eggs…..Ok pretty girl I’ll be  back to clean in a  few…..so off I go to   check the to-do list and get my stuff….  ..oh lookie there the  Raven  flight needs cleaning and  feeding …hee hee….so  yuck bucket,  scrub  bucket,  pull the hose reel  out from inside  since it’s now  freezing at night they have to get brought in  every night…. Grab a  rake, make her food and  head on out…into the cold rain to  spend some time with my pretty girl….

Part 5

Caw Caw…here he  comes again, and this time he has the  stuff he brings when he stays for a long time…ooh and I see a bowl of yum yums … caw caw… he opens the  tiny  opening and pushes the water  sprayer thing through,  he takes his  thing  that he puts my  yucky leftovers in  and the  funny  tasting water holder with the  bubbles  and the nasty tasting   toy….and the mean  stick with teeth…..I don’t like the  teeth stick but  when he brings it, it’s ok….he  get’s on the  ground and  I hop  down too and   play with him  while he picks up my  yucky old stuff…. Oh wait that one still looks  good   peck  gimmee that… he makes the hahahaha sound again.. he picks up some of the yummy red things  that  I had hidden and  puts them in  his talon and holds it out for me… I scoop them up one at a time and  put them in my crop… I fly up to  a perch and  place them there for later….. uh oh he’s coming over here… I’ll hop down on the  ground and  peck at his lower talons…wonder why he has more talons than I do….strange this one…  and I think he might be trying to steal  the yummies he just gave me… peck peck ..he makes a  low  mad sound “NO” and pushes me  , that’s not very  nice. He didn’t hurt but he pushed me… humph…  he deserves a peck for that,  no one pushes me and  gets  away with it! Peck peck  ..there’s that “NO” sound again and another push..hmmm now he’s picking up my goodies… oh he’s  holding them out for me again.. he thinks this is a game… ok guess I’ll  play along,  I take them one by one from his hand and put them in my crop again,  mmm well maybe I’ll completely  eat one or two  they are small red  sweet and yummy…. The rest I’ll take over to the flat perch and  set them down for later… he goes  back to cleaning up my place and I hop and fly all around supervising him , making sure he doesn’t  take any of my hidden yummies… ooh he’s getting close to a nice chunk of meat I  hid….  Better go  snag that up…. …

Part 6 

I’m cleaning the  ravens flight and playing  wth her,   holding some pomegranate  seeds in my hand and letting her  get them…. When she get’s “Out of line” I push her away  and  say “NO”  like a dog, because I’m not yet sure how to “correct” her and I make a note to myself to ask  on that later.. I spend about an hour    in there with her, playing and cleaning and just building that much needed  trust and bond… but there’s a lot to do so I need to get busy… but I’ll be back ……   as I take the hose out and my “tools of  the trade”  I bring in her fresh food, and  she  goes to town…. Flinging the “dog food” out and  looking for the  meat chunks…. She finds a  nice one and as  I’m walking out she flies over to the perch above the door and drops it at my feet and gives me a cute little  parallax and caw?  Like  I brought you a present aren’t  you going to eat it?   I pick  I t up and  put it in my pocket ( to give back to her  later) , thank her for letting me clean her flight and playing with me,  building trust with me and  tell her that I  love her…. Next on the list that needs done are the gulls….   2 California  Gulls and 2  Sea Gulls in  the “otter” pen…. A nice large enclosure with a pool….so I  go in  and prep their food and   grab my stuff and make my way to their pen to   clean  and feed… well  shucks…. Someone already did it and  didn’t mark it off… DOH!!!! I just spent  20 minutes  prepping their food and  now it’s  not needed… lesson learned..don’t  trust the log  sheet…. now I have to go tell the leads that I screwed up…. Ugg…. Oh well  gotta  own up to it… so I  go back to the med room and  I beg their pardon… “I’ve made a mistake” I say…a  worried…”what did you do” in stereo from them , so I explain and they laugh.. oh that’s now big deal just  put it in a dish and label it for tomorrow for the gulls and  put it in the protein fridge…. You saved us the trouble of having to do it tomorrow , don’t even worry about it….. whew…   thank goodness I’d  feel so bad if it had to get thrown out …it’s a  lot of food for 4  seagulls I was amazed at how much they get! ..ok so next..the list shows that  Baxter the Bobcat’s enclosure needs  doing… so I walk out and  verify that it’s true LOL…..yep OK so  Bax it is … he’s on a diet though and   he get LESS to eat than the  4 sea gulls…poor  chubby  Baxter…. Well I ask if it’s OK  to throw in a  cleaned off  deer leg  for him to chew on too and  got permission for that J so off I go ….put the  meat and the deer leg in the guillotined off  section,  while he’s purring up a  Harley  sounding  storm…  and rubbing himself along the cage just begging  to be petted…  UGGG that’s   the hardest part about Baxter.. you just wanna  snuggle and  play and pet him  like a big ole kitty cat… but ya can’t  I feel so bad, but it’s   what’s best for  both of us I guess…. So raise the guillotine and  in he goes to get his  yum yums… ( beef heart, some quail and  the deer leg) lower the guillotine,  verify he’s  secure and  then go in the main section and clean …scoop the poo,  scrub the  mat and the  raised platforms…  sweep and scrub,  refill the poo pool and  “spare” poo water dish, the  drinking dishes and  check the straw bedding all    looks good to go…..  make sure I have all my  stuff and  leave the enclosure…all the while Bax has   quickly devoured the  meat and quail and is  happily crunching away on the  deer leg… I thank  him and tell him   love him and  get my stuff all the way out,  make sure all is  right  and then raise the guillotine…. And lock down the doors.. he  trots out with the deer leg and  keeps on enjoying it in his enclosure……verify the  guillotine section is  secure and then  clean that area…  thank him again lock it all down and   back to the clinic for  my next task… a lead  comes up to me and says we’ve been waiting for you, we need   your  eagle wrangling skills  today….   LOL  sweet I’m the  Eagle  wrangler!!! What do we need to do?  Well… you remember the  Osprey  that wasn’t quite right? Well he  passed away  by unknown causes  last week Friday..that’s  sad …poor guy… but it happens… SIP sweet  Osprey …..but because we don’t know why  we need to catch the  turkey vulture and the eagle that are in the Big Eagle flight and  weigh them and give them exams…  Turkey  Vulture is easy  for us now…  we “chase” him for a minute , he does his puking , we nab him , weigh him, check him out and release him  back in the  flight 15 mins tops… wham vam thank ya vulture?? Stop…..Eagle time… dum dum dum dum duh duh duh… Eagle time… (  hammer time> anyone ? )…ok  whatever…  so   we chase the Eagle around  and get her to  land  on the ground  i say her because she’s a  biggun… and usually the bigguns with raptors are “Shes”) , I set off at a sprint with my sheet and  the next thing  I know I’m laying on the ground in a lot of pain…. I will neither confirm nor deny the loss of consciousness… but I was definitely injured… but being a “guy”..nope it’s all good,  I’m  “FINE” nothing to see here…let’s move along and get this  Eagle….  The two gals that were in there with me  said it was a really hard fall and were very concerned   but they also said it was  very “graceful” and that I landed in the perfect Seinfeld pose….I have no idea  what that is but I can tell you if you’re  from “my era” the pose I woke up in was  that infamous Burt Reynolds pose from “that”  magazine… only  I was fully clothed… ..I slowly get up and even though I’m a bit groggy I’m  still gonna  get this Eagle Wrangled… I will not have my  perfect record tarnished!  I get her cornered and  go in for the tackle and  she spins around 18 inches in front of me   all puffed up   beak  and talons in attack mode,  wings spread and  a look that  said if you come one step closer,  evil human,  I will have no choice but to  rip your throat out and eat your  face…. Fair enough…. so I back off and let her  get to a  different corner, I tell one of the gals to  approach  from  a different angle and distract her and in I go for the snag….. bam,  sheet on her, hand on back,  wrap the wings, grab the talons  and  up we go…. Another  successful—– whoa   someone flip the sheet back over her head please I’d like to keep my face!! As  ugly as it is I don’t need another  scar there…. So  flip up the sheet  and  out we go….. get her weighed and fully checked out while I’m holding her,  she’s gained  good weight and is  very healthy  and STRONG. Good deal,  let’s set her free…back to the flight with her,  onto the  ground,   uncover her head to orient her and  set her free…. Off she goes…..  another success..but oh man I’m a  hurtin’ (and also wet and muddy and cold) unit…shoulder,  hip, head arm…  my whole left side  is one big throbbing  pain……. But no one needs to know that…. Nothing a little  Aleve can’t  fix later… so I think it’s time to go… but not  without  saying good bye to my pretty girl….

Part 7

Here comes the fun one again…. And he’s  got a  yummy looking  wing in his talon…. He comes in and  talks to me  but he doesn’t  give me the wing, he puts it under his wing thing in a spot I can’t figure out..it just disappeared….. hmm that’s not funny… peck , peck  “NO”… peck peck on his  lower   talon that is on the ground…. “NO”  he tells me to go to the flat perch and gives me a piece of meat from his pocket  yummy……he goes over to another perch and  asks me to go there  so I do  and whatta ya know  the   yummy  wing… mmm looks like quail…  comes out  of his hidden spot and  into his talon,  he  gives it to me and  I fly away to  play and  nibble… he utters some caws that sound like “eye wuv yoo, taank yoo  and gud buy”….hope  he comes back soon………back to this wing……nom nom nom…..

5 thoughts on “The Raven Formerly Known as Arty and I

  1. absolutely wonderful. You take us right along with you. What an adventure. I love that we get to hear from two perspectives. You really have a gift…I mean gifts. To be able to write and to also be able to “talk” to the animals is truly a gift. So thankful that you share with all of us.

  2. I think it is great; love the way you write it from both your view and what you believe the Raven’s perspective to be. LOL Hope you recovered from your fall!

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