måndag 29 april 2013

Number of nestlings

For a long time, we have been quite unsure of the number of nestlings. And now, all of a sudden we can easily see all of them when they are being fed. Three hungry beeks stretching upwards...


torsdag 25 april 2013

Building and painting

Since the breeding season started, we have not been able to work that much with the ravens. Firstly, there is much more group dynamics than usual, which make it harder to interest the them in experimenting. Secondly it's much more difficult to separate them, since Juno and Siden has occupied one whole section of the aviary complex.

The door to the old pig stable

Instead, we have put some time and effort into enhancing the facility, and a grant from The Royal Physiographical Society has made it possible  to convert a part of an old pig stable into much needed research facilities!


The renovated part will house one area for preparing and keeping raven food, analyzing fecal samples and keeping research equipment.

 We are also constructing a small indoor aviary in case any bird should be injured, or for any reason should need to be kept apart from the others. This aviary could also be used for experiments where sensitive equipment, like an eye-tracker, is used.

On the second floor (although we don't yet have any stairs) a part of the old hayloft has been converted into a spacious area, suitable for seminars and meetings.
The only downside is that it probably will take ages to paint...

onsdag 24 april 2013

Radio documentary on corvid research

Today we are visited by Lotta Malmstedt from the Swedish National Radio, P1 Documentary. She is making a documentary about our research, which probably will be broadcasted early winter.

tisdag 23 april 2013

Feeding nestlings

Raven chicks

We have been waiting for Juno to realize that her eggs will not hatch, and that life in the aviaries should go back to normal again. For ravens it can take several years before they find a partner and manage to breed successfully. It is quite common that young raven couples have to practise nest building a few times before the nest meets the required standard, and also that the female has to learn how to incubate properly. As far as we know, and we did ask around in the raven research community, succeeding in raising chicks in the first adult year is unheard of.

So imagine our shock, when we heard faint tweets from the nest last week. The eggs had hatched after all! To make it even more incredible, Siden and Juno are siblings (if we didn’t mix them up when they were small) and we have never seen them mating. It is quite common that ravens form sibling pairs during the early years, or even pairs of the same sex, so that has never been an issue. Moreover, sibling mating in birds is not totally uncommon, and if they are able to buffer out the sometimes negative effects of combining closely related genomes, the strategy can even be rather successful from a biological perspective.  On the other hand -  if the gene mix should be bad– the eggs normally wouldn’t hatch. So either, Juno and Siden are not siblings, or Juno and Rickard has been mating – or the gene combination of the chicks are perfectly healthy. We will still have to see what happens next.

As soon as we realized that the eggs had hatched, we ran to the store to buy the best chick food, extra vitamins and calcium – to provide the young parents with as nutritious food for their chicks as possible. And they are so capable! When new food is brought, Siden immediately caches most of the food, and then flies off to the nest to feed Juno and the chicks. Still, we don’t know if they will manage to properly care for them, but at least they will have a good chance.


måndag 15 april 2013

Course in wildlife rehabilitation

This weekend we attended a course in wildlife rehabilitation, given by Katastrofhjälpen - a nationwide non-profit organization taking care of injured birds and other wildlife. The aim of the organization is to rehabilitate injured animals so well that they can be released and reproduce in the wild. If the injured animal is beyond recovery, it is euthanised to spare it from further suffering.
Many of the animals taken care of are birds, and we learned a lot about rehabilitating different species by two enthusiastic teachers who had more than 80 years of experience between them!

Among the things we learned, was how to fix injured bird wings.
We also practised how to tube feed starved or dehydrated birds.