Obituary to Biscuit the Raven

For over a week now, my heart is heavy and I feel like crawling under a rock. No, not because of the virus and being cooped up, but because I feel as though I caused the death of a flock of ravens.

It was the end of a sunny afternoon when a knock on the door interrupted the peace and a barrage of threats and accusations unfolded: “if you don’t stop feeding the ravens, I’ll shoot or poison them. They bang on my roof… four o’clock in the morning, you’d think a truck is running over my house.. they shit all over and rip the roof of my trailer apart… at least $2,000 damage… I don’t know what to do anymore… I’m going to shoot or poison them.”

I was speechless after such an outburst out of the blue. After his words sunk in, I could only mumble “I’m sorry, I did not realize by feeding them, I would upset you, I understand and I’m glad you told me. I’m sorry”. My brain was mush as he turned and left, still threatening about shooting and poisoning.

 

Ravens are long-lived and are said to mate for life.

My supper stayed untouched and I spent a sleepless night. The next morning, NO RAVENS. For a whole week, no life outside. No birds checking for sunflower seeds on my feeders, no birds balancing on the railing, no couples sitting on the deck rails or wires preening each other. Worst of all, no friendly “Biscuit” peeking in the window: I wrote about him because we raised him as a half-naked, fallen-from-the-nest preemie, and not to forget “Spike”, my neighbor’s raven that she fed for 15 years – gone. The thought finally set in… he killed them all! How could he? These ravens were my friends – a little bright spot amongst all the gloom around us.

My reason for feeding them was: I thought I would be providing them with food to help them survive the long winter (and also prevent garbage can break-ins). During a time where staying home is crucial, my granddaughter and I took a lot of joy seeing my flock come by to visit every morning and take a little bit of food to bolster their winter needs, just like the hummingbirds and songbirds sitting on my feeders in the summertime.

Biscuit as a fledging.

Finally, after a week of being choked up and mourning, I asked the police for advice. After a few hours of investigating, here came the expert advice: yes, we can feed ravens, but if (and this applies to all wildlife) any damages done to any property, matters can be taken by the property owner to “remove” the offending animal.

My beloved tall trees will attract them again and I fear that this will only happen again, feeding or no feeding. Ravens are intelligent birds and make their homes where they feel safe and secure, but they are unaware of the human danger and evil only a few houses down the street. I feel a great sadness knowing that I cannot help to save them from the cruelty of someone who cannot appreciate their beauty.

In Canada, known for its gentle demeanor and kindness to wildlife, it is so hurtful to know that it is within legal means to take a whole flock of ravens out of the sky because of some pecking and noise. They are intelligent, friendly, and can recognize people – not to mention mourning their friends when death naturally occurs. Ravens do their part to clean up the “waste” in nature, scrounging for food from the leftovers other animals leave behind. As humans, we have built our homes on their land and remove them when we feel they are “in the way” – when really, we are the ones that took away their habitat. The sorrow of this loss and the knowledge of its legality has kept me awake for nights on end. What happened to kindness and respect for animals and the beautiful land we live in?

Editor’s Note: There is no proof that poison was used, but it is disturbing that the birds are absolutely gone. Poison is a very ugly, gruesome, and insidious way to kill animals. It is an indiscriminate way of delivering death, destroying all who eat of the food that was used to deliver the poison. Then that circle perpetuates – the dead can be eaten by something, and then they die as well… a circle of death.

Ravens are protected by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA). The FWCA prohibits the hunting, trapping and collecting of birds without the proper licence or scientific permit. Importantly, the use of poison to kill birds is strictly prohibited. Enforcement of the FWCA is done mainly by Conservation Officers employed by the MNR. The general penalty is a fine of not more than $25,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both. However, that protection goes out the window when it comes to protecting your property. Section 31 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act addresses “protection of property” from wildlife. Under section 31, anyone who believes that wildlife is damaging or is about to damage their property, may, on their own land, harass or kill the offending wildlife. These provisions apply to all property owners, not just farmers.

to read about Biscuit’s rescue

Karin Grundt
Latest posts by Karin Grundt (see all)

7 comments

  1. gary montgomery

    Who ever did this is an idiot and has no care for wild life and that makes you a very bad person…Think of what other of Gods critters did you murder…I would like to call you some real nasty names of what you really are but they wouldn’t print it but believe me you are all of them..I don’t even know you but I sure as hell don’t like you..I am sure that there are a lot of people who feel as I do…

  2. As your neighbours down the street we love the local ravens. Sure if you’re not careful they may tear into your garbage bag, but otherwise they are beautiful, intelligent, and often hilarious creatures to observe. My wife often sits in our backyard and talks to them, and has made many efforts to photograph them. A highlight of our mornings is heading out of our driveway and seeing the flock gathered on your porch for breakfast-time. We hope that it’s just a coincidence that you’re seeing fewer birds the past few days and that no one has done anything malicious.

  3. Wow I was wondering where the ravens had gone..they also hang out in the back lane. I love watching them they are so very smart. The ones around here are very mischievous, love to sit on the neighbours house and watch me do dishes, tease our little beagle and have even come into my back shed to try to get into my garbage cans. I hope that they have just found another neighborhood to tease for a little while and they will be back!

  4. As a wildlife lover myself, I share your feelings of shock and revulsion that a neighbour would resort to such behaviour without trying to determine if another solution was possible. I know that ravens do not fly at night. If something was pecking on his roof at two in the morning, it was not a raven. I am so upset at what he’s done. I also feed ravens all my leftovers from the fridge cut into small pieces so they can eat it right there. That’s what caring people do. I’ve watched Karin feed and care about birds her whole life. I am so tempted to say who it is that has done this. I hope that there’s not come a time in your life when you need the help of your neighbour’s.

  5. While I do not feed the ravens, I do appreciate them immensely. Their intelligence and humorous antics have oft kept me entertained. They do get up on roofs but I have not experienced this before daybreak and have only seen this behaviour in the young ones; for now, it is too early in the season. While not everyone may share in appreciation for these creatures, I too believe there has to be other alternatives to destroying them and taking away someone else’s joy. Perhaps the ravens just know who hates them and the birds bugging those folks has nothing to do with who feeds them. I notice that the folks that are nice to them don’t seem to be bothered by them or suffer property damage.

  6. From Marshall, Michigan — I share your dismay. We were enthralled by a family of ravens which I fed for several years at our place at Montreal River Harbour , but which became an apparent nuisance to some neighbor(s). The ravens disappeared suddenly and I suspect foul humans at “play”. For you raven aficionados who have not yet read these, I suggest Bernd Heinrich’s book “MIND OF THE RAVEN” and Ben Gadd’s “RAVEN’S END”. It is nice to learn that others also cherish the so often underappreciated corvids. We don’t have ravens in this neck of the woods but the local crows have found me.

  7. Folks: Has it really come down to the fact that some short-sighted people don’t understand why we should live in harmony with creatures that inhabit our shared world? We are the ones that are intrusive. Pick a species on the endangered list. They have not been put in this predicament by their own devices. Unfortunately, humans play a vital role in each one of these scenarios. You have a choice of whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
    We have manufactured a way to get to the moon, however, we can’t figure out how to keep Ravens out of our garbage or off of our roofs without the use of poison or lead? What a travesty for all people, especially seniors, who may get a few moments of pleasure from feeding the birds.