Management of Interspecies Interactions in Captivity

Introduction

This blog post is aimed to provide some useful information regarding the potential need for the management of interspecies interactions between different corvid species in captivity. We are frequently being asked, mostly by rehabbers and rescue centres, if and how certain corvid species can be kept together in an aviary environment. This question often becomes of interest due to a reoccurring problem in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation – the lack of available aviary space.

To shed some light onto this topic, one has to consider two different main scenarios. If and how different corvid species can and should be kept together depends on the set goal to be achieved, as there are different considerations to be made. The two main scenarios are rescue, rehabilitation and release opposed to long-term care in a sanctuary like environment. We will discuss and examen both scenarios in this blogpost.

Magpie Luca
Magpie Luca
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Corvids – Killers or Scavengers?

Introduction

Are corvids cold blooded killers or merely opportunistic scavengers? This is the question we are trying to answer in this blog post. Mainstream media and advertising businesses often have a tendency to present an idyllic and idealised version of farming practices, showcasing for example animals living in picturesque environments. This imagery is employed to evoke positive emotions and create a connection with consumers. It is nothing else than a marketing strategy aimed at promoting the products derived from the use of non-human animals, such as meat or wool, by associating them with positive and wholesome images. Humans have a natural inclination to connect with and appreciate the beauty of animals. The sight of a playful and adorable lamb triggers positive emotions, such as joy and warmth, which does evoke empathy and a sense of compassion.

Spring lamb - Photo credits: FreeImages.com/takatuka
Photo credits: FreeImages.com/takatuka

Bearing this in mind, then it is not surprising that the sight of corvids scavenging on such an innocent being will without a doubt be repulsive for most people, who will immediately sympathise with the victim, and not with the scavenger. Unfortunately, media representations of such wildlife interactions with domesticated non-human animals are commonly very much one-sided, despite the well known fact that it is always essential to consider all nuances and complexities of such interactions.

Jackdaw Alyona
Jackdaw Alyona

Media portrayals often focus on dramatic or attention-grabbing stories, which can lead to an exaggerated or sensationalised narrative. While isolated instances of corvid predation on lambs occur, it is essential to keep in mind that wildlife predation is just one among many factors influencing lamb mortality. It is crucial to take scientific research in account, as we will do, when discussing these matters.

We will show the links between mainstream media, their owners and agricultural businesses, and we will demonstrate historical, cultural and psychological background information to explain why a picture of corvids as being coldblooded killers is being painted. We will look into the human psyche, but also at the reality of agricultural businesses.

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Corvid Isle Sanctuary Needs Your Support

Carrion Crow Harold

We come to you today with a heartfelt appeal on behalf of our cherished corvids. Corvid Isle Sanctuary is a small and entirely self-funded non for profit organisation based in the Scottish Highlands. We provide a safe haven for these intelligent and captivating birds, who have faced hardships and adversity.

GoFundMe – Corvid Isle Sanctuary Needs Your Support

At our sanctuary, we offer a forever home to corvids that have endured unimaginable challenges. Many have suffered injuries, or impairments or have been orphaned, requiring specialised care and attention. We believe in their inherent worth and dedicate ourselves to their well-being, providing a sanctuary where they can flourish and find refuge from a world that often misunderstands them.

Rook Isla
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Identification of Juvenile Rooks and Carrion Crows

Carrion crow Amor
Rook Brambles
Rook Brambles

It is usually not difficult to differentiate between adult rooks (Corvus frugilegus) and carrion crows (Corvus corone). Both species may look similar at the first glance, because both have black feathers that can also look glossy. However, the long pale and pointy beak, with bare skin around its base, is the most striking and characteristic feature of rooks. It is also worth knowing that rooks nest collectively in tall trees, often close to farms or villages, which are known as rookeries. In contrast, carrion crows are fairly solitary and are usually found alone or in pairs, although they may form occasional non-breeding flocks. Unlike rooks, carrion crows do nest solitary, maintaining a large breeding territory centred around the nest.

Carrion crow Chili
Carrion Crow Chili

Additional help and information about how to identify adult corvids including rooks and carrion crows can be found on the British Trust for Ornithology website (BTO).

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) – Identifying Corvids – Crow, Chough, Jackdaw, Rook and Raven

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