Nurturing Odin the Raven’s Intelligence

Posted by Heather on

Me with Odin the Raven, photo by Ben Coulson

Thought I’d update you on our very handsome corvid, Odin the Raven. He’s now coming up to 4 months old and has the most spectacular feathers, a photograph doesn’t do him justice, he is so glossy and has a stunning blue/black sheen… and look at the size of him now!

As I mentioned in an earlier article, Things You Didn’t Know About Raising A Raven, providing foraging toys and other objects to play with from an early age was vital to ensure that Odin developed a proper ability to learn. A bird that never has to work anything out, will find it difficult to suddenly start learning new things or problem-solving by itself.

Odin investigating a new puzzle, photo by Ben Coulson

Odin has been tackling a couple of new puzzles, the above is the latest of them – in the middle of the cage is a small tub with a wire handle at the top containing mealworms (one of his favourite treats) which he can’t reach just by poking his beak through. In front of the cage are 3 sticks of approximately the same length and 1 has a curved end. Odin has to use the sticks to either push the tub near to the edge of the cage, or use the hooked stick to pull it nearer to him. Of course, it’s up to Odin how he tackles the problem and he may well try out a few solutions that we haven’t though of, or even simply jump on the cage and knock it over, tipping the mealworms on to the floor. Regardless of how he eventually succeeds, this kind of exercise is great to get his brain ticking.

Odin picking up one of the sticks, photo by Ben Coulson

After eventually succeeding in training Odin to hop into a carry box on command, he has been in the line up for the shows for just over a week now and is doing really well. He flies above the audiences heads, and lands on our glove when called over – he doesn’t stay in one spot for long though, he has the personality of a mischievous little puppy! Odin wants to investigate everything and doesn’t stay still for more than a couple of seconds, he also does the cutest two-footed bounce, he’s become a real hit with visitors already He also loves shiny things, especially keys…

Attempted key theft! Photo by Ben Coulson

After a couple of days of getting Odin used to flying around in front of an audience, we decided it was time to focus his attention and give him a task to complete during his big moment in the show. We got some think plastic pipe and attached a long chain with a bucket at the end to the inside of the pipe. Odin’s task would be to pull the chain in order to reach the bucket to retrieve the food inside. This video shows you step by step exactly how this worked, many thanks to Ben who constructed this task for Odin and produced the video!

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s wonderful to see such a clever bird in action, and challenging your bird’s problem-solving skills are just as important. By the way, if you would like to see this handsome Odin’s baby pictures, check out my first blog post about him; Hand-rearing a Raven Chick.

Odin calling loudly, photo by Ben Coulson


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  • I lived in Alaska for 9 years, Ravens are EVERYWHERE in the winter. Mainly diving in dumpsters, but they can get about as big as a yorkie dog or bigger. The joke was to not let your small dog out without a leash or he might get carried away! (but that was cuz of the eagles too). They are very persistent creatures and take on eagles for the salmon in groups torturing the eagle. (eagles are not as smart once you put it next to a raven). I miss all the Alaskan birds! I’m learning new species here in Oregon. :)

    Jeni on

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