tisdag 23 april 2013

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.


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