onsdag 23 april 2014

The annual site visit

Since some years back, Mathias is lecturing on the course Ecology of behaviour/ethology given at Lund University's Biology department. As a part of the course, the students visit the raven facility to conduct an assignment "in the field". Usually the task is to establish the dominace hierarchy among the ravens, but as we have them separeted in three different aviaries during breeding season, there isn't much hierachy to observe. Instead the students were assigned to construct a so called ethogram, which, shortly put, is a behavioral catalogue of a species.

Photo: Can Kabadayi

fredag 11 april 2014

Tired and untidy

Being the parents of quintuplets - yes I saw FIVE beaks yesterday -  is a messy and exhausting business. As the chicks are sleeping soundly in the nest, the young parents clean up and rest for a minute. Soon the young will wake up again.

In the adjacent aviary Rickard and None is surveilling the sorroundings. A bit bored, since they are temporarilly separated from the other males to avoid conflicts during breeding season. Suddenly Rickard feels the urge to claim his territory by fluffing and vocalizing. Even I, who has seen this type of display thousands of times, is impressed.


torsdag 10 april 2014

Visitors from Turkey

Today we had long distance visitors from Turkey. Can's parents are staying in Sweden for a few days and the research station was one of their stops.
As usual None was keen on meeting some new people, and happily introduced herself to Can's father. Kindly enough they brought us some excellent Turkish delight, and fresh walnuts for the ravens. However, unlike all other crow birds I have met, the ravens are totally uninterested in nuts, even though you would think they should value them as fatty and nutritious.
Siden and Juno in the adjacent aviary didn't seem to mind the visitors much, and tomorrow I will tell you how many beaks I saw today....


måndag 7 april 2014

Little beaks

We are so curious about the number of chicks in the nest! Last year, four chicks hatched, but only three made it to grown up juveniles. The nest is shaped like a funnel, but it is already possible to see beaks while they are fed - with binoculars and from a distance. So I offer Siden different food, and then I run through the aviary complex and through the horses' enclosure to stand prepared when Juno lifts herself from her young. How many beaks did I see? At least four...! I think.


On TV 4 News

Some weeks ago, TV 4 news also reported on the raven research. See it HERE.

torsdag 3 april 2014

Baby food

The raven parents seem to prefer protein for their newborns. Usually ravens would go for the fatty parts of any meat, but now Siden chooses the fleshy bits for his young.
As we don't know exactly how a perfect diet would look like, we try to provide the raven parents with as various food as possible to choose from. So far, the young might have tasted beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, egg, cheese, rice and bread. We also try to sneak in vitamins and calcium by offering it in a mixture of meat already chopped up in baby portions.

But Siden is very picky, and tastes everything himself before he brings it to the nest.

He is also very thorough when he caches the food. It has to be protected from swarms of hungry tree sparrows during the day, and rats during the night. The salmon was hid in a corner with a massive piece if wood dragged over, and placed on top of it.

I knew I jeopardized the hideout when I went over to take a photo - crow birds are very sensitive to others paying attention to their caches - and as soon as Siden saw me closing in on the cached salmon, he rushed over to find a better spot.

The better spot turned out to be under a pair of woollen gloves that Siden stole from Can sometime during winter, and I had to make sure to take the photo by stealth this time.

The capable father.


tisdag 1 april 2014

Tiny pieces of meat

If my calculations were correct, today would be the first possibe day of egg-hatching, so I served the ravens breakfast with some expecations. To my disappointment, this morning was no different from other mornings, though. Siden came down, ate some and then started to cache the food.

When I checked in on them before nightfall, two wild ravens lifted from the ground next to the aviaries, and all our ravens were on their toes. Even Juno was out from the nest, so I assumed she helped chasing the indruders away. As it was many days since she was down, I ran to fetch her an evening snack, but when I came back she was already back on the nest. Siden, happily grabbed some meat, and to my delight he immediately started to tear away, tiny, tiny pieces of meat. That could only mean one thing! There must be a chick in the nest! I waited impatiently for him to finish, and then he flew to the nest, made the subtle feeding grunts I recognised from last year which made Juno move a bit, so he could feed the little one - I even heard the faint chirps!