Suk had visitors yesterday (and they are back today – 3 today). A pair of Ravens. Magnificent voices, incredible aerobatics and elegant flight. Heartbreaking….
Yes I said heartbreaking.
But really it was mixed emotions. Thrilling to see and hear these beautiful, intelligent animals up close in their wild home. Awe at their vocal and acrobatic abilities, amazement at the sheer size of one of them, easily a 5-6 foot wingspan and the deepest voice I’ve ever heard from a Raven. Joy at seeing them play and display to each other in the trees around the property. But then….
Extreme sadness that Suk had no reaction or even recognition of them except fear when they were too close for comfort, flybys of his aviary. For the most part he was oblivious that they were telling him this is their territory and perhaps trying to get him to leave or at least give them chase.
If I ever had any doubt about him being imprinted that was erased yesterday. He was not understanding that these visitors were his relatives at all. It’s so sad to me the cruel things that people do, to take a wild animal and completely destroy it mentally and relegate it to a life of captivity or to euthanizing. I was in tears watching Suk just happily play with an enrichment box, while the wild ravens were zooming around , quorking, clicking, snapping and singing, riding the air currents, flying free from tree to tree, flips and spins in the air. My tears were for him, knowing that while he is perfectly capable of flight and healthy and beautiful in every physical way, he doesn’t, and probably will never know what that frolicking free through unlimited airspace is like, all because some $%&^ing person screwed with his head at a critical point in his early life.
It was also exhilarating seeing the wild birds frolic and call. I have a true, unabashed affinity that never ceases to make me grin ear to ear seeing them in the wild. They are doing what wild Ravens do…. And knowing how intelligent they are and how empathetic they can be I am hopeful that they realize that Suk is not quite like them, poses no threat and they will just visit and be kind. It is a real possibility that will be the case and most likely they will just visit occasionally (or even often, time will tell) but they will not harm him. I’ve always wonder how he would respond to other ravens and while I suspected this particular ambivalence , it is still sad for me to see. A part of me hoped that there was a chance that he was only partially imprinted and that he would recognize his species and interact in some positive way that may eventually have led to his release (though legally that is not an option with him, perhaps an exception could have been made with solid, empirical evidence…).
I am doing everything I can to make sure that the life Suk has is a full one, filled with enrichment, love and helping to educate people not only on Ravens and other Corvids and wildlife in general, but also to the ramifications and the true tragedy of what happens when you take an animal, specifically young, imprintable wildlife, out of the wild.
Suk is doing fine, I am the one who had some hard time with this event, and it really is mixed emotions. The ravens that are visiting are absolutely incredible, beautiful and fun to watch and experience. You really do not get many opportunities to see elusive birds like the Raven in most urban or semi-urban environments. Here are a few photos and a video of them and Suk’s lack of response. The Ravens are getting bolder today though and Suk is getting a little stressed, one actually was on a tree right next to the aviary and also on the aviary roof. I believe Suk felt that as stress/pressure/attack from a strange creature that makes similar sounds as he does so he was a bit agitated with the encounter. We’ve spent a lot of the day out with him or around that area to try to have the ravens keep their distance as really they are probably just curious about the raven in a box… and either protecting their territory or wanting to “help” him escape his prison (prison in their mind, in Suk it’s his palace and his territory).
Some may think that Suk should be released to be with those ravens… let me try to explain, he is imprinted on humans, he doesn’t know he is a Raven, he is incredibly intelligent, but intelliegnce and identity are separate parts of a being. They are not mutually exclusive just not related to each other. Plus if he were to be released, he’s in their territory, he could suffer either by direct attack, or be chased out of their territory which could be miles and miles away from the home he knows now as his. He doesn’t know how to communicate with them, or how to find food on his own without depending on humans. He would suffer terribly and if he wasn’t killed he would starve or be killed by people for trying to get food from them… or end up back in “the system” of rehab and probably euthanasia. Some people may even say he’d be better off that way (euthanized) but honestly he does have a good life for his condition and we have already seen him make a real positive impact on people as a teacher, teaching about the cause and effect of imprinting, teaching about ravens, environmental conservation, etc.. etc…a long list of the differences he is making in the world and it spreads! He’s already touched the hearts of many children and adults alike who I truly believe are learning and changing their lives to make more of an effort to protect wildlife and know what to do with young birds, and so much more…. ( anyone who has met Suk and gotten a presentation or mini-presentation or just a chat, please comment your thoughts on if you’ve learned from him he’d love to get feedback!) I would much prefer to see Suk and all of his kind in the wild, Of course I do love caring for him and teaching with him and having him teach me, but being free in the wild will never be in the cards for him so we are making the absolute best we can for the situation he is in.
I will continue to document and record Suk’s visitors as well as all of his activities ( I keep a running journal/log of every detail I can think of) in order to continue to make a positive difference in his world as well as the world around us. We will use this as another lesson to help people understand and change, learn and grow and appreciate wildlife.
I’m not posting this on Suk’s facebook page, I do plan to post the video and a brief descripton of the events but not this, this is my personal blog and not the offical Suk the Teaching Raven’s opionions… there will be alink to this in the video comments though – if you’re here from that link, please know this is not the official USFWS or WDFW positions on anything…. just my personal observations/feelings.
Enjoy these pictures and video and as always my dear friends: Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love – http://wp.me/p2RcFA-3Z
The video is a little long, but if you’re a Suk follower or a Raven lover you won’t mind…
and: QUORK ON!!!