Raven plays in the snow at the Tower of London

Thursday 1st March 2018

Raven plays in snow at Tower of London © Val Borrell - London Wildlife Trust

As icy conditions continue to hit London, this raven was clearly enjoying the snowy conditions at the Tower of London. Ravens are intelligent, curious birds, keen to learn and quick to explore new situations. This one seems to be playing in the snow, and it certainly looks like it is having fun!




Mucking about like this, in a relatively safe environment such as the Tower, gives the raven a chance to try out new experiences, just as the young and young-at-heart enjoy sledging, skiing and snowboarding in similar conditions. 

The seven ravens at the Tower of London are captive birds, with their wings clipped to prevent them flying too far. They enjoy a healthy diet of raw meat and bird biscuits so do not have to worry too much about the winter cold. It is a different story for Britain’s wildlife, which right now is taking a battering.

Cities usually provide some respite from the worst of winter, as they tend to be warmer than the surrounding countryside, but current conditions mean that wildlife is getting desperate for food and shelter.

As Mathew Frith, Director of Conservation with London Wildlife Trust explains: “It isn’t difficult to help wildlife if you have a garden, balcony or even a windowsill. Commercial bird foods such as sunflower seeds, unsalted peanuts and fat balls are a lifeline for many garden birds, and they will happily take grated cheese or raw porridge oats. Dried fruits, such as sultanas and currants, are also welcome, and halved apples or pears will provide a feast for hungry thrushes, tits and starlings – and they are not worried about fruit that is past its best.”

London Wildlife Trust also recommend putting out a shallow dish of warm water, to provide a vital source of drinking water for wild animals, when everything else has frozen solid. Dog or cat food will provide welcome nourishment for many birds, as well as foxes and even suburban badgers, which will be struggling in these conditions.

Val Borrell, the London Wildlife Trust volunteer who captured the playful raven on video, looks after the wildlife in her own garden, and urges other Londoners to do the same. As she says, “We need to look after our wildlife and nature. It is such a joy to hear birdsong, to watch a snuffling hedgehog, or to marvel at glow-worms illuminating the summer night. It’s all out there, just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed, and I’m more than happy to give wildlife a helping hand!”

Birds at play: Ravens, like many corvids, do seem to enjoy playing, but we do not fully understand their reasons for doing so. Observations of play in birds is limited to corvids such as crows, raven and magpie, and also parrots, hornbills and babblers, a total of about 25 species out of an estimated 10,500 species of birds in the world, making it an incredibly rare behaviour among birds.

Ravens at the Tower: For more information see: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/explore/the-ravens/

Grapes, dried fruit and dogs: Sultanas, raisins and currants, as well as fresh grapes, can all be toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Do not place such foods where dogs can access them.

Video © Val Borrell / London Wildlife Trust

For high resolution video and more information contact: Ian Tokelove, London Wildlife Trust; call 020 7261 0447 or email press@wildlondon.org.uk

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