Dear Editor, AFA Walchbird,

In the March/ April issue of the Watchbird, I was pleased to see an article about some Common Ravens.

At the end of the article are some italicized statements where it is stated that ravens can be aggressive, unpredictable, and destructive, and "therefore do not make good pets. Keeping or breeding ravens is illegal."

While I understand why these statements were made, I have some observations I would like to .share with you and your readers ...

Certainly we are all well aware that many psittacines, legal-to-keep softbills, and legal-to-keep native raptors are also aggressive, unpredictable, and destructive. I submit to your readers that ravens make no worse "pets" than any other independent highly intelligent bird that is zero to three generations removed from the "wild."

There are many different types of non-native corvids (crow family birds) available for US aviculture, whether as importable birds which can serve as breeding pairs, or as the captive bred offspring of pairs already here.

The African Pied Crow, Corvus albus, for example, is very similar to our own native crows and ravens. There are many other types.

I submit to you and your readers that there is an increased need to begin breeding the non-native corvids and other softbills while they are still legal to import,

I am also interested in seeing the


native corvids introduced into American aviculrure in a similar manner as the native "game" birds are. And, also of note, native raptors are legal to breed and keep, for falconry.

In my view, only a limited number of birds from the wild would be required to begin a successful captive breeding program for the native corvids. These takings could be monitored and limited by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Service could impose banding schemes on such birds, similar to how they do for the native "game" birds and native raptors, to ensure that only captive bred offspring are sold. There does need to be sufficient interest from us though, to push this issue forward.

In any case, there are many nonnative corvid species available, for import, for breeding, and on a smaller scale, as pets.

May I share with you and your readers a few of the web sites I recommend people visit to leam more about this issue:

My own~ http://www.geocities.com/ Athens I Atrium/1424/

The Softbills.com web sire: http://www. softbills. com/

A site that profiles some native corvids, to give you an idea of what the nonnative ones would be like for you: http://www.shades-ofnight.com/ aviary/


A softbills discussion group (with a purview which includes corvids): http://www. onelist. com/subscribe. cgi/ SOFfBILLED _BIRDS

I am very much a "newbie" to corvid aviculture myself. I am currently working on being able to breed some non-native ones, and I would like to become a licensed rehabilitator of the native ones. I don't claim to be an expert, but I do have a strong impression that many aviculturists don't realize there are highly intriguing crows, ravens, magpies, and jays legally available for US aviculture - birds vary similar to native-to-the-US corvids.

I strongly and independently urge all softbill and corvid breeders and keepers to consider writing articles and letters to the Watchbird, so as to further educate the avicultural community about softbill and corvid aviculture.

Sincerely ~onatMn J-(~

AF A Life Member

My Dear Higbee

Very good letter. You address some excellent points. Of course I put the disclaimer in the raten article to inform our readers that it is illegal to go into the field and gather baby connds. The ravens in the article were in a licensed rehab facility but some our readers may not have taken note of that.

I am myself a oery great fan of the coruids. I commend you for asking for more connd articles in the Watchbird. I should oery much like to see more of them.

Indeed, my Dear Higbee, the first answer to yow- request is Associate Editor Carolyn Swicegood's Blue jay article in this tery issue- a ioonderful story of her experience with a Connd - a charming Blue jay.

I suggest you produce the next article - corvid of your choice. I shall follow with my own connd anicle (and I have some good tales to tell). Perhaps, we can get the ball rolling.

Many thanks for your letter.

Sheldon Dingle, editor