North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre caring for another white raven

CHEK

The animal care supervisor at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) in Errington has once again found an unusual white raven in his care.

“Not only was it dealing with the debilitated health that comes with its genetic condition it actually was also involved, presumably in an eagle attack,” said Derek Downes.

The sick and injured bird was found in Qualicum Beach in January and is making a slow recovery but may never be released.

The experts at the centre say white ravens are simply unable to make it through the winter.

“So melanin creates that dark pigment, the black pigment for them and that protects them from UV radiation and it helps them thermoregulate and it also helps them to a certain extent in camouflage, I mean a white bird is an easy target to be seen,” he added.

This is now the third white raven taken in for care at NIWRC, the other two are now residents and on display for visitors.

They’ve been seen occasionally in the Oceanside area since the 1990s.

So if the birds can’t make it through the winter and die if they’re not rescued then how do they keep being born?

“It seems to be that it’s a straight recessive gene so two black parents that carry the gene will create a white individual so it’s not white individuals breeding that are creating white individuals,” said Downes.

And the gene apparently has been passed down through generations of black ravens in the Oceanside area.

“The sacred white ravens of Oceanside as they’ve been dubbed, a lot of people have heard of them and there’s been a lot of prolific photography of them,” he added.

The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre isn’t a zoo, all of the animals it has on display came in as a patient at one time and couldn’t be released.

The money spent by visitors allows the centre to keep caring for new injured and sick animals that come in.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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