Even though ye are naughty, I still luv ye... aye!
April 21, 2016 4:55 AM   Subscribe

Who is this naughty raven? It's Izzie of the Knaresborough Castle Ravens. Read about the adventures of Izzie and her fellow ravens on their website: "One Saturday I was busy chatting to a local resident when Izzie decided to get up to mischief, she spotted a potential victim and like a spider drawing a fly into its web, Izzie did like wise with this poor unsuspecting visitor..." posted by bobobox (12 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Knaresborough also famously has a petrifying well, which Shakespeare references in Hamlet.

(IV.vi, Claudius explaning why he didn't have Hamlet arrested:)
... The other motive,
Why to a public count I might not go,
Is the great love the general gender bear him;
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces...

Knaresborough is an easy day-trip from York and you should definitely go if you get a chance.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:59 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for this. What a wonderful post!
posted by xarnop at 6:41 AM on April 21, 2016

Why does she wear chain mail?
posted by BentFranklin at 6:41 AM on April 21, 2016

Corvids are fascinating; I think a few of them are even mefites! After reading this post I wanted to make friends with the crows around my house, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
posted by TedW at 7:09 AM on April 21, 2016

Why does she wear chain mail?

Why not?

Possibly traditional ravenskeepers dress?

Knaresborough is a really nice spot to visit. The castle is little more than ruins but the well is very neat. In the town there is also an excellent old time sweet shop and a beer shop with an amazing selection.
posted by koolkat at 7:31 AM on April 21, 2016

OMG, being a "ravenmaster" is totally my goal in life. I never knew it had a name.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

TedW: they quite like string cheese and peanuts in the shell. But feed them well away from where you live as songbirds will not nest where crows hang out lest they lose chicks and eggs.

Crows and jays will remember you and recognize you two blocks away. And they will likely know where you live. But they will respect boundaries when you are out if you set and keep the rules.
posted by y2karl at 12:27 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

What rules would those be, y2karl? I'm trying to make friends with my crows by leaving unshelled peanuts on the patio. Also: string cheese, eh?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:39 PM on April 21, 2016

I have moved on to bags of little square strips of artisanal mini-bars. Sharp cheddar, garlic and dill and habanero.

I never feed on our property but a block or two away.

But, man, I step outside and it's caw-caw-caw from the top of the big leaf maple next door, caw-caw-caw from a wire across the street and caw-caw-caw from the trolley wire at the corner, right above a four foot standpipe attached to Cedar River water main which runs down North Broadway.

Whereupon I leave some pieces of cheese for the alpha. Who grabs all it can, three, four, five strips and flaps off to stash it.

The other two wait until I walk down the sidewalk and glide in over my shoulder to plop down in front of me for their cut. When the alpha doesn't shoulder them away and grab it for itself.

(Well, things have changed of late, but I digress...)

Mom, dad and last year's chick, they are. I'm not sure who is who anymore except the alpha who has a hairlick feather projecting from his or her breast. And that one is always silent in my presence.

It got started two years ago.

On my way to Roy Street to get a clover with an add shot, I saw.two crows with sticks in their beaks fly to the top of a tree across the street. So, I crossed over to take a better look. And they saw me.

Crows, I found out, don't like snoops looking for their nests.

They dropped their sticks and came right at me. As did every other crow in the neighborhood. Cawing and dive bombing and hitting me on the back of my head.

And that was all she wrote.

Every morning, every evening, when I walked down that block, I got mobbed.

It got old fast.

Until one afternoon, I stopped and talked to the alpha when it was by itself.

And said, in a quiet voice, 'I am not your enemy. Please stop.'

And then I took out a soft dog treat I kept in my pocket for the dogs at my apartment. And threw it in the street.

And the crow stopped cawing and dropped on it.

And the.next day, I walked down that block in silence until I got to the same spot.

And that crow glided over my shoulder, banked and turned in the most beautiful curl, never flapping once, and landed right in front of me, facing me.

And I threw another treat at it.

And so it went.

I switched to cheese, it started showing up with the beta and, in time, with a glossy young one who begged and begged for a piece from the other two.

Until it got the trick about the time the other two started molting.

I could see them coming from two blocks away after that.

The alpha started following me to Roy Street on weekend mornings and cawing outside -- couldn't hear it but could see it -- until I came out and left treats on the railing around the al fresco.

I would lay down bits of cheese, retreat inside and it would land and tightrope down the rail and cram every piece in its beak until it looked like it was packing orange Lego logs. Then fly off.

And, after awhile, every other crow in the.neighborhood started following me when they saw me.

So, I cut back.

But the silent one kept following me.

And I started leaving cheese on the standpipe.

And it got bolder and bolder and would fly up with me only ten feet away.

Until a week ago when I pulled out my phone and tried to shoot a video. Too close, as it turned out.

Game over.

Now it won't come closer than the top of the telephone pole and won't come down until I am a half block away. And not looking back face on.

So, I flew high, crashed and now we are working it out.

You can make friends with crows.

And get close.

But some of them are camera shy.

Don't get funny with them.

Don't push your luck.

And remember that a soft voice can turneth away wrath.

So, it's a work in progress is all I can say.

We shall see...
posted by y2karl at 8:31 PM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

TedW: my rules are no food at my place. But, as it turns out, they have rules, too.
posted by y2karl at 8:47 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cool story, bro. I have a morning flock and an afternoon flock, not sure if they're the same. I make sure they see me putting the nuts on the table, I wave and greet them and retire inside to watch. Haven't seen any signs of recognition.

I sat outside once after delivering food and played guitar but this didn't happen.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:54 PM on April 21, 2016

Years back here, I used to sit out on my back step and around sunset in late May and early June and play my guitar, then a National Trojan -- wood bodied and quieter than the metal ones and very mellow in comparison.

And this one song I played -- not singing but just playing -- Skip James's Special Rider Blues , it seemed to me to set off this house finch on top of this big blue spruce. Who would just kick.in for that song.

Now house finches are have this liquid glissando that just swoops and soars in arabesques. They are in the pole position as singers here. I just love them.

And I noticed this one would cut loose and just sing his heart out, above and beyond, when I played that song.

I just couldn't believe it. It was a mystical experience, at least with a small 'm' -- But I was skeptical, all the same.

But the neighbors noticed it, too, one after another. So, I became a little bit more of a believer as it happened over and over.

And then I noticed that it was the turnaround that pushed his button. Play that over and over and he just sang and sang.

And there is something about that turnaround that is redolent of the Woody Woodpecker song. So, go figure.

I have a similar experience with a robin that summer when playing another tune on guitar, but, man, what happened with that house finch was something else.

So, you never know. As I said elsewhere, if there is such a thing as magic, it is something we have learned from birds. Magic... and music, too. They can cast a glamour upon us, enthrall and enchant us. Magic... and music, too.

Or so I would like to believe.
posted by y2karl at 11:01 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

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