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Young ravens prepare for first flight
Chicks go from egg to fledglings in a matter of weeks

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It won't be long before raven chicks growing up above a window at Edith Mair's house take their first flights, according to Mair's neighbour. Joe Walsh, who lives across the street from Mair on 49th Avenue, said he went on vacation for two weeks days after the chicks hatched.

When he returned, they were almost fully grown and now it looks like it won't be much longer before they're flapping around with their noisy parents.

NNSL photo/graphic

A mother raven prepares to feed one of her four chicks who are growing up atop a bay window at Edith Mair's house on 49th Avenue. The nest became famous in the neighbourhood after the Mair's noticed a pair of ravens were building a nest among chicken wire and an owl decoy they set up to deter the birds. - photo courtesy of Edith Mair

"They're ready to go," said Walsh while watching the nest from across the street. He said he's been reading up on ravens and anticipates seeing the fledgling family for some time to come at least. "Apparently, to get them out they need a strong wind, and they'll fly into the wind and then they will come back to the nest for a number of days," he said.

Mair said she's enjoyed hosting a raven family and has been glued to her window watching the mother - who apparently hasn't quite adjusted to being spied on by a human - come and go.

"They get right up when she comes," she said. "Whenever she sees me she flies off. I try to make raven noises. She's usually not far away . she thinks I am menacing. I don't think she realizes that there's glass in the window. When she comes back she thumps on the top of the roof and she looks right in at me."

Mair said her dog - Nipper - has also noticed the birds living at the home. She said the mother raven seems equally aware of the canine below.

"She doesn't like the dog," she said. "She thinks the dog has wings and can fly up there."

Roughly four weeks ago the babies hatched, said Mair. She said the parents bring everything and anything edible to feed to their chicks - making their visits to the nest every 10 minutes or so.

"We've got a boat in the back here and it's full of water," she said. "She leaves the food there. There was a big bun. And of course it's all dry. So she takes it and dips it in the water."

The birds have made Mair's house the centre of attention in the neighbourhood, she said. "I've had lots of people stopping and taking pictures from the road," she said. "I guess they don't normally nest around people's houses."

Walsh said he's been watching with interest. He said when the Mair's set up chicken wire and a pair of owl statues to keep ravens from picking at their new roof, the ravens took some time figuring out the implied threat.

"They would go up there and they would just scream at this owl," he said. "And the owl, being a statue, didn't do anything. And so finally after a week, I guess they figured it's not harmful and then they built the nest around it."

Mair said the plan to keep ravens away with fake owls didn't pan out.

"They just thought it was a nice friend," she joked.

Walsh said he's seen the father raven bringing food to the house next to his, feeding the mother so she can deliver the goods to the chicks. He said he isn't sure how long it took the eggs to hatch but he was well aware when they had.

"As soon as they hatched they would go over and feed these crazy creatures in there," he said. "And they're loud. Walking the dog the other day, at five o'clock in the morning, they were already feeding these guys. It's loud for us and I can just imagine what it's like for the Mairs. But they don't seem to mind it at all."

Mair said she is not looking forward to the day when the family has flown the coop.

"People say 'Well, you'll be glad when they go' and I say 'Well, actually I'm going to miss them'," said Mair. "They really haven't bothered us at all."

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