Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Of Sled Dogs and Ravens

By now my affection for ravens must be known to all. I think they are truly clever creatures with a fabulous sense of fun.
We don't have many at home, maybe hanging out around the Westlock McDonalds, but nothing like Alaska. Here ravens are very common place - and BIG, bold ravens. They hang out around cities and towns, fly over dog trails, and make themselves completely at home in dog yards.
We appear to have 5 or so 'resident ravens' here at NorthWapiti North. In the morning when I head out to the water room to start preparing breakfast, the team takes that as a sign and starts to bark and carry on. That is the 'dinner bell' for the ravens. In no time they will be impatiently hanging out in trees croaking and squawking at me to hurry it up. As soon as food is being dished out and the commotion in the dog yard dies down the big 'whop, whop' of their wings sounds overhead and they drop into the yard. As I work around the yard finishing the feeding and then shoveling I get to watch an amazing bunch of interactions. I'd take pictures, but the one thing the ravens aren't tolerant of is me reaching into my pocket and pulling out a camera. Hacking away at frozen poo with a shovel and dragging a noisy 'poop sled' around the yard are fine, but the camera is a complete 'no-no'. So you are going to have to make do with my descriptions of the dog yard dances with the ravens!

The dogs are surprisingly tolerant of them - well, except for Wonder. She has no fondness for the beady eyed birds that are almost the same size as her and puts the run on them every time they enter her circle. Irving isn't keen of them either and sticks his big ears out the side of his head when they hop through his area, refusing to look at them. Jr and one big raven practically bumped butts the other day. They both apologised snad headed in different directions.

But the funniest interactions lately have been between Bingo, See and the birds. Bingo hasn't been eating too great lately, nothing wrong with her, she has always been a bit of a picky eater if I'm not careful. The ravens have figured this out and a group of them will congregate at the bottom of the dog lot near her. One or two will try to distract her while the rest dive into her dish. She protects the dish rather keenly, until I come and take it away - much to the dismay of all!

See lives right next door to Bingo and doesn't appreciate all the commotion and company at feeding time. Yesterday morning in a huff See picked up her bowl (without spilling it), carried it to her house, carefully placed it inside and then shoved her head into the house to eat. Very clever - cut out all the commotion and very effectively protected her meal from the ravenous ravens!

I am continuously amazed by the creativeness of these dogs!! Fasinating creatures all!!

As I said, the ravens ae not keen on pictures, but here a few I snuck in earlier this morning

Wolvie, Charge, Barq and friends

Jr and friend

See and foe!!!


Bakavi said...

Just amazing. All of God's creatures.!! no wonder the Ravens follow the sled dogs. They are all so smart and birds of a feather..........
Hope See is well!

Anonymous said...

Karen, Love the pictures. I've got some great shots of a neighborhood
Raven that wasnt camera shy. They really are cool birds.
bigdogmom Fairbanks, Alaska

The Thundering Herd said...

Chuckling - way to go See. Protecting your food bowl - even if you do not want all the food - is critical.

Lindsay said...

Those are some seriously big ravens!! We always run into them when we're out skijoring on the mountain. Sadly for the dogs, the ravens are far too quick to be caught.

Wulik Siberians said...

I thought that was Tana sitting on the doghouse! I'm in Missouri right now and wondered if Mike sent her back to you while I was gone! She's such a good girl I'm sure that wouldn't be the case, but MAN does that look like her!!!!