Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Samantha Raven and a Nature Miscellany

Bear Climbs Ladder To Escape Skate Park
Workers Lower Ladder So Bear Can Climb Out
SNOWMASS, Colo. -- It sounds like the setup to a joke. How do you get a bear out of a skateboard park? Well, in this case the answer is: a very long ladder. A black bear stuck into a sunken skateboard park in Snowmass Village earlier this week got a little help from animal control officers who lowered a ladder so the critter could climb out. The bear wandered into the large concrete skateboard park Monday night and couldn't get out because of the park 's steep sloping sides. The bear was discovered Tuesday morning. "In an effort to ensure its safety, and the safety of our residents, animal control officers extended a ladder, waited patiently and the bear figured it out!" said Lesley Compagnone, a spokeswoman with Snowmass Village. The bear sniffed out the ladder, tested it out from the side and then climbed the ladder, at times taking two rungs at a time. Once it got to the top of the ladder, it scoped out the scene and ran off. No injuries were reported to humans or the bear and the skate park was reopened Tuesday morning.

Email correspondent Diane D’Arcy missed the original appearance of Samantha Raven
Hi Donna:
Sorry but I must have missed something. Where is the Raven? and why is she flightless? Who is the person or entity calling for her eviction. Can we mount a campaign to keep her there?
Best, Diane

Hi Diane,

Sorry for not doing a full recap on Samantha. The posts concerning Samantha Raven appear in early April.

It all started when I received an email from a concerned citizen who had taken a walk through a cemetery in NYC. He saw a large black bird who appeared flightless and quite possibly injured being “visited” by three other large black birds, whose intent was unclear.

He wasn’t sure what kind of birds they were or exactly what was going on with them. I was out of town at the time so I asked for photographs of the bird and shot off emails to the bird rehabbing Horvaths and our favorite squirrel rehabber Carol Vinzant.

Carol was first on the spot and after talking to folks with connections to the cemetery, found out that, Yes, Samantha was flightless but she wasn’t currently hurt. Previously she’d been injured and taken into rehab. In the end her wing was irreparable and she had been released into the peaceful cemetery where she had been living very nicely. Little bowls of meat were left for her and the “three other black birds” were Crows who made daily visits to her. Eventually due to the hoopla surrounding her, whether she was safe or not and other machinations, the cemetery gate was locked and visits to Samantha by the public came to an end.

Then lately Carol took another walk to the area of the cemetery with her dog Jolly and was allowed inside where she heard of Samantha Raven’s current plight. It seems that the folks who have been caring for Samantha believe that she has been predating the local pigeon flock. They were upset by this and think that Samantha should be found another home.

Now Ravens are known scavengers. In many habitats the eating of already dead animals is the main choice on their menu, though they are also known to hunt lizards, mice, and small birds.

Though it isn’t impossible that a flightless Raven might be hunting and killing pigeons with some clever Corvid hunting technique but it seemed more likely to me and some others that Samantha might be getting a bum rap. That possibly she was doing her Raven job of eating already dead animals. Particularly as this behavior seems to have been suddenly discovered this summer. Because not only is Samantha flightless but during some summers there are several diseases amongst pigeons which kill a high percentage of the individuals in affected flocks. Even those lucky enough to be taken to rehab very often cannot be saved or become unreleasable due to neurological damage as in the case of PMV—a kind of pigeon virus related to the virus that gives humans polio.

Therefore I hypothesized that perhaps this was a tough summer for pigeons but a banquet for Samantha the scavenger Raven and there might be a mistake in blaming Samantha for the pigeons demise.

From Karen of Rhode Island--
Is someone talking to the cemetery people about Samantha?I hope they don't toss her out...

Carol Vinzant has been speaking with people. She has also passed along the thought that the pigeons Samantha is eating might have already been dead when she found them. But with the caveat and question that Samantha could possibly be killing the pigeons but if she is, how is she doing it?

It is my hope that someone will take the time to observe Samantha’s activities and perhaps find that she is scavenging or if she is hunting and killing, then what her technique might be. If Samantha is hunting but as she is flightless perhaps it is always from the same perch and that perch might be made inaccessible to her and their problem with predating pigeons could be ameliorated without Samantha being evicted.

I don’t believe that they would just throw Sam out as people seem to be actively looking for a placement for her.


Photograph by Carol Studebaker

Five Wild Turkeys trot with purpose.

Photograph by Donegal Browne

Still Life: Toad with Briquettes

Photograph by Francois Portmann
New York Photographer Francois Portmann took a trip to Jamaica Bay.

See more of his gorgeous photos at

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