Ravens: the flying recyclers.

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Raven Feast

During my last dumpster dive I was able to recover 2 kg of chicken thighs in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

The chicken had gone bad. It looked fresh until I opened the bag, the smell that came out indicated otherwise.

Horrified and a little sad I wouldn’t be eating chicken for dinner I placed the bag outside on the porch and thought about how I should dispose the smelly meat.

I have been taught that composting meat is bad and that it should be put in landfill. That means I would have to freeze it and then wait until the garbage truck comes around to pick it up.

But the idea of rescuing food from dumpsters  is to reduce landfill, so throwing it back into landfill really didn’t make any sense.

I mean chicken is just as organic as fruit and veg, why should it not be composted?

The critics would say it invites rodents and flies to the household. Fair enough. ( But why would these little critters want to come into the household if the rotten meat is outside? )

I could always bury the meat and put a little tombstone on it. The Vegens would like that; the chicken that would have lead a cruel short life, murdered and then not even be eaten. Chicken that died for nothing, to be buried deep in landfill amongst toxins and plastics.

Yes, a burial would be appropriate.

But first I had to satisfy my curiosity. I wanted to know what kind of animals would be attracted by meat in my suburb. So that night I lay the chicken pieces in the backyard and early in the morning I arose to see what had happened to them.

I guess I was not really surprised to see a large gathering of Australian Ravens picking away at the chicken. Magnificent birds, feathers shiny black, large and powerful. They were sharing the chicken about themselves, tearing shreds and having a good old time. They did not squabble over the food, they were patient and took turns. Amazing.

On the fence close by sat four Pied Currawongs, majestic beautiful creatures, perhaps my favorite ever. I was really impressed to see them in suburbia, this bird is relatively shy of humans. I have only ever seen them in National Parks, so quite a thrill! They are also a big bird with a long dagger-like beak and one on one they can scare off Ravens easily, but this time they were outnumbered.

I sat eating breakfast on the porch listening to the Currawong’s long melodious cat like wail, so heartbreakingly beautiful, such a treat!

A lone Australian Magpie investigated the banquet, but was outnumbered so didn’t stick around. Even a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo came to see what the fuss was about.

A few humble Common Mynas scratched about waiting for the Raven’s feast to end. It reminded me of how vultures and hyena’s wait for the lions to finish before they move into pick the bones clean.

I didn’t see a single nasty rat or cockroach about anywhere.

The majority of the eating was done by the Ravens. This bird has an incredible sense of smell and can zero in on food scraps from a long, long distance away. They are also incredibly intelligent, I have honestly never seen this bird become road kill, nor do they make the mistake of eating plastic for food.

Ravens have adapted successfully to humanity’s footprint and from my observations the bird is incredibly efficient at cleaning up organic waste.

My conclusion from the experiment is that before throwing meat in the garbage, I should consider the bird life around where I live. It is better to leave out meat for these flying recyclers, than for the meat to go to landfill.

As a bonus Raven bird droppings will fertilize my garden .

And the chickens death was not in vain, the poor bird has now returned to the cycle of life. 🙂


Loxley Smithett  earthknight.org


2 thoughts on “Ravens: the flying recyclers.

    Gianna said:
    June 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    This is interesting. In my neighborhood people leave their stale bread out to feed the birds which is TERRIBLE for birds as many of them are insectivores or survive on a diet of grains, seeds, and fruits. I’d be wary to leave meat that’s gone bad out for the birds, though, in Fishtown because we have lots of raccoons. Raccoons would LOVE it, but many of them have rabies and the last thing anyone wants is a rabid animal feasting in their back yard.


    earthknight responded:
    June 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    We don’t have any raccoons in Australia. Or any other scavenger type mammal of that particular size. Perhaps that is why our ravens are thriving? We do not have rabies here either, thankfully! I hear that it’s an awful contagion that drives animals mad? I love raccoons and feel saddened that they suffer from such a horrible fate.
    I feed the birds bread from time to time, but we only have ravens and common mynas that are interested in such tidbits and both species are hardy scavengers that eat anything. Ravens are carrion feeders, so bad meat is normal for them. 🙂


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