Pet of the Day

December 7, 2003

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Oracle, the Pet of the Day
Name: Oracle
Age: One and a half years old
Gender: Male
Kind: African White Necked Raven
Home: Sandpoint, Idaho, USA
 
   Oracle is an African White Necked Raven who was bred and raised by Brian Blazer of the Corvid Ranch in Alabama. He was five weeks old when I received him. He is now one and a half years old, fully flighted with a 4+ feet. wingspan. He has learned some English this year and says many different words coherently. Oracle is a fantastic friend and an extremely important member of the household.

    While living in NW Canada, I had cared for two injured Common ravens (Corvus corax) who were permanently injured after falling from their nests as juveniles. I have always loved the corvid family of birds since a young age and after caring for the two handicapped ravens for several years, I was inspired to investigate the exotic corvids that are legal to possess in the United States. In investigating the African corvids, I met Brian Blazer and was delighted to purchase Oracle before he was even hatched from the egg!

    Oracle requires a lot of attention, having him in the house is very much like having a three to four year old child to take care of... except my "child" will never grow up, doesn't take naps, and is not particularly keen on toilet training. His mind is extremely active and although he often gets the run of the house (daily, in fact) I have to keep a close eye on him as he loves to rip and tear things. This is normal behavior for any corvid and especially of ravens, as they truly are the "carcass experts" of the world.

    It is a challenge to stay ahead of him as far as games and play time goes... he is extremely intelligent and bores easily with games that would likely entertain a human child for hours. I personally would not recommend a crow or raven as a pet for the average person... these birds are too intelligent to keep in a parrot cage or other small, boring environment. They require constant mental stimulation and 'challenges', and hours of undivided attention daily. However, if one can commit to these requirements for the life of the bird (40+ years), there is no better companion to share one's home with. I also have two Borzoi hounds and two cats in the house. Oracle loves to interact with, and intimidate, them. To keep harmony in the house, I do not let Oracle loose in the house without having the dogs outside and the cats safely behind a door that Oracle cannot open. Oracle has his own large bedroom, and a special outdoor aviary that my husband and I constructed with him in mind.

    Oracle has a very outgoing personality, he loves people and is not at all shy even of strangers. He loves to go to the vet, and if he had his way he would probably go every week just to visit and be the 'star of the show' at the vet clinic. Most people that meet Oracle are intimidated by his large bill, however he is very gentle and does not bite. He gives me kisses every day and is very gentle with me. He also enjoys sitting on my arm or shoulder and rubbing his face in my hair.

    Oracle has a few behaviors that could be viewed as tricks. He will "Fly" on command without leaving my arm. He will literally fly on the spot, his feet keep him from flying off. Great way for me to cool down on a hot day, much better than the standard oscillating fan.

    He is also very good about catching just about anything tossed in mid air with his beak. He also enjoys hanging by his bill, I will show him his favorite towel and he will grab hold with his beak and literally hang there for a few minutes. He appears to challenge himself to hang on longer and longer each time. Another behavior that is definitely one of his favorites, is steal anything remotely interesting and hiding it! I have recovered an amazing assortment of goodies from his secret stashes around the house, anything from missing jewelry to car keys, and all manner of items in between. This is an ongoing game for him, I'm sure he is constantly thinking about what he's going to thieve next, and where he might put his "new" stash.

    Oracle is extremely affectionate and really thrives on personal attention. I'm quite positive that in his mind he is a short person. Even though we have several wild crows, ravens and jays on the property, he is not particularly interested in them. However, any person is of great interest to Oracle, he's always looking to enlarge his circle of human associates, and has developed a routine that tends to draw people over for a visit. When he is in his aviary outside and spots a likely 'victim' he will whistle and talk to get people (such as the mail carrier and other service people) to notice him. He will usually start off wolf-whistling and then move into talking, saying things such as "wise guy, hahahaha, whatcha doing?" The vocal inflections that he uses in his speech are really amazing! He sounds very human-like in his speech and has a very deep voice (some people say he has a diabolical voice). When he can entice someone in his direction, he will then hang upside down from his perch and look through the aviary wire upside down. This usually never fails for getting someone to come right over to see what he's doing. He's a real ham, a true sweetheart and pure joy to have in my life.

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