Don’t feed the ravens!

Nature Lover

Don’t feed the ravens!By DAN BURNETT

A few days ago I woke up to find that my bird bath had become an ice skating rink for the sparrows. That left no doubt in my mind that winter is really here, and it reminded me how the cold season can be tough on birds and other animals.

Our neighborhood was visited several times recently by a pair of coyote pups that were in very bad condition. They were thin as rails and mangy with bleeding sores. I squelched my desire to feed them. Feeding wild animals is a bad idea. Except for the birds.

People have asked me if feeding birds helps them or harms them. Their thinking is that the birds become dependent upon the artificial food supply and will cease being able to fend for themselves. If they are fed by us. There have been several very sound studies that indicate that winter feeding of birds is very helpful and has no adverse effect upon them. Where there are bird feeders the number and variety of birds increases over time. Given that birds, in general, are in trouble, feeding them in the winter is something you can do to help them.

There is a local bird, however, that you should not feed. You may feed this bird now and not realize that you are. That bird is the common raven. It eats everything. Wherever people are, this bird prospers because we people are trashy, and ravens love trash.

The raven is a very intelligent animal. You may have seen them dumpster diving around Ridgecrest. If you watch them you may see that one or two ravens will get inside a dumpster or open trash container and throw juicy did bits out to their friends who are clustered around on the ground waiting. You may have seen them opening trash can lids that aren’t closed tightly and throw trash around. They will eat dog food, cat food, bird eggs, chicks, small animals, and anything else edible that they can find or kill. They are smart and voracious predators.

The number of ravens in the desert has exploded since more people of moved to the desert. Where the raven population has increased, the desert tortoise population has decreased. Baby tortoises are raven ravioli. Some ravens have learned how to kill and eat adult tortoises.

I have a love-hate relationship with the raven. It is a fascinating animal that I love to watch. I just hate how the numbers of them have decimated other species. It is our fault this has happened. We throw trash around and the ravens love us for it.

So, you might want to add these new year’s resolutions your list.

1. When you see an open trash container or dumpster, take a moment and close it.

2. Feed the birds (but not the ravens).

3. Don’t leave dog and cat food outside unattended.

4. Take a few minutes each day to enjoy the nature around you.

Story First Published: 2019-01-11