The Current

Tower of London welcomes its first raven chicks in 3 decades

Last fall, The Current met Christopher Skaife, ravenmaster of the Tower of London. This spring, he's welcoming the first raven chicks to have hatched on the property in 30 years. He tells us what new ravens mean for the fate of the kingdom.

Meet George, the newest protector of the kingdom, reporting for duty

For the first time in more than 30 years, raven chicks have hatched at the Tower of London, ensuring the kingdom's safety for years to come (as the legend goes). (Tower of London/Twitter)
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The Tower of London in England recently acquired a pair of mating ravings in the hopes they'd produce a chick — but the ravenmaster didn't expect them to "do their business" so quickly.

"To be honest with you, it was a bit of a shock for me," said Christopher Skaife.

"I went down one morning and the female raven had built this huge nest and it kind of took me by surprise."

Skaife said he made sure the breeding pair were given a perimeter of privacy to "let nature take its course," and before he knew it, the couple had built a nest which was soon occupied by eggs, then the sound of chirping.

And just like that, the Tower of London welcomed its first raven chicks in three decades.

The four offspring were born on April 23, which happens to be St. George's Day. Naming one of the newborn chicks George made all the sense in the world, said Skaife.

"It was an ideal name to call it George. Or perhaps, because we don't know the sex [yet], Georgie," he told The Current's guest host Laura Lynch.

George brings the Tower of London's roster of ravens from seven to its maximum residency of eight.

The remaining three chicks have been sent to stay with Skaife's friend in the countryside, while George remains "on duty" at the tower.

"He's very adult-like," Skaife added.

"He's quite a shy raven which is quite nice because some of ours are very, very boisterous ...  I think he'll fit in really well with the other ravens at the Tower of London."

The Current first spoke to Skaife in October 2018 to learn more about his job as ravenmaster, of which he theorizes he's the world's only one.

The ravenmaster — who is also a royal bodyguard — is tasked with maintaining the health and safety of all ravens at Tower of London, which includes allowing them to fly freely, feeding them, maintaining the pecking order, and "feather management."

Skaife is the sixth ravenmaster at the tower since the Second World War. (Submitted by Harper Collins Canada)

According to legend, the Tower of London must be occupied by at least six ravens at all times, or else great harm will befall the kingdom.

Being four ravens richer has brought Skaife great joy and relief.

"I am the happiest father around at the moment," he said. "I'm so pleased that they've had babies here. It's so exciting for the Tower of London."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Written by Émilie Quesnel. Produced by Ines Colabrese. 

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