According to legend, the Tower of London and the British kingdom are tied to the presence of six ravens in the 1,000-year-old fortification. According to a 17th-century royal proclamation, if the birds leave London, “the Tower would crumble to dust, and tremendous harm will befall the realm.” This dismal scenario seems unlikely to come true soon. The Tower has at least seven ravens (the corvid equivalent of “heir plus a spare”). This week, officials reported the birth of four healthy chicks—the first since 1989, when Ronald Raven was born. The Telegraph’s Jack Hardy says that Tower employees erected a new aviary last year due to a decline of legal raven breeders in the UK. Tower ravens are bred elsewhere and transported to London. The seven corvids in the Tower were born in Somerset, Surrey, and South Wales.
In a Twitter video, Tower Ravenmaster Chris Skaife reveals that they opted to breed ravens to safeguard their future. Huginn and Muninn, the newborn chicks’ parents, arrived at the Tower aviary late in 2018. Still, they weren’t expected to get settled in time for the 2019 mating season. Skaife suspected the pair had bred after noticing a large nest overnight. On April 23, St. George’s Day, he noticed birds carrying food to the nest. A few weeks later, he could approach and inspect the scene. The chicks are fed quail, mice, and rats by Skaife, Huginn, and Muninn. All four grew from 8 centimeters at birth to 30 centimeters last week. Baby ravens are beginning to acquire their species’ black plumage, but their beaks won’t become black for another year. After the day they hatched, one of the four chicks, named George or Georgina, will join the seven ravens (not including Huginn, Muninn, and the newborns) at the Tower in late summer.
According to Metro’s Kate Buck, the remaining three will go to a breeder in Somerset. Tower ravens live longer than wild ones. According to Historic Royal Palaces, one corvid lived from 1884 to 1928, which oversees the Tower and other antiquities. Today, ravens eat raw meat, once-weekly eggs, and rare rabbit. In a press release, the ravenmaster says, “Having worked with the ravens at the Tower for the previous 13 years and getting to know each of them, I feel like a proud father.”