She is an artist, singer, corvidologist, and former stunt woman., but most of all Debbie Porter is probably one of the most popular and adored corvid connoisseurs of the internet. She is a dedicated mom to several crows and ravens (and cats, pigs, and humans too) and her hybrid raven, Edgar, has his own facebook page as well as a multitude of Youtube followers!Â We previously featured Edgar in our spot on the difference between Ravens and Crows.Â Be sure to check it out if you have further curiosity about what makes Edgar a Hybrid (and no, it isn’t a hydrogen feul cell!)
We wanted you, our dear readers, to have this opportunity to enjoy Debbie’s perspective on corvids and what it is like living with them in this exclusive interview. To kick off your lazy Sunday evening, let me first introduce you properly:
Edgar Says Hello
Says Debbie ,”Edgar is EXTREMELY intelligent, more so than any of my birds…maybe because I only had 4 crows when I got him, and I was able to spend more time with him. Â At any rate, he is a spoiled brat! Â If I am petting him, and I even SAY the name of another bird, he pecks me. Â He’s very possessive of me. Â He has to drink out of my glasses and bottles, and eat whatever I’m eating. Â No Â matter how hard I try to hide something from Edgar, he will find it. Â I can’t leave him alone in a room, it will look like a tornado hit when I come back. Â But he comes to me when he is called. Â He looks me right in the eye when I am talking to him, or when he is saying “Hello” to me. Â He’s like a person. Â I call him my jealous husband. Â He knows how to open doors. Â He flies all over my two story house. Â He likes to pull the cats and dogs tails. Â But he can also be the sweetest, most gentle boy you’ve ever seen. Â He brings me things, like carpet fibers that he knows I don’t want him to have and gives them to me. Â He talks and sings and aria. Â He is just the greatest gift a girl could ever have.”
Edgar EatsÂ Breakfast
Cheerios aren’t the only thing Edgar loves. Debbie says he will eat absolutely anything!Â Don’t worry though, onÂ a regular basis, has a steady diet of Science Diet Puppy Chow.
“I don’t give him chocolate or avocados, because I’ve heard they’re not good for birds. He gets the carcass of cooked turkeys, hard-boiled eggs, shell and all, they all love Nacho Cheese Doritos, Cheerios, dog treats. Â I allow them to eat anything, but because they are in an indoor aviary… I don’t give them raw meat in fear of salmonella.”
Debbie, retired,Â currently rehabilitates crows from the comfort of her home aviary. When asked what inspired her passion, she says, “I actually did not like crows. “
“We didn’t have ravens in the San Fernando Valley where I lived, and the crows would gather in a large tree that I had in my front yard to roost, and you can imagine how loud that was! Â Plus, they pooped on my cars.
But one day, when I went out in my back yard to give my dogs some water, I saw something black under the rabbit hutch. Â I thought ‘Oh no, a dead crow.’ and I didn’t want to deal with it. Â But he was still alive. Â He let me pick him up without pecking me or any resistance, so I took him to the vet. Â I signed in, and sat down to wait. Â I promised him Â he would be OK.
For some reason it was taking like an hour, and everyone was going in for treatment but me, so I went up to the desk to find out why, and there was some kind of mix-up.Â In the big scheme of things now, looking back I can see that it gave me time to bond with this beautiful creature. He had been shot, and his wing was not repairable. Â They wanted to put him down, but I said no. Â He ended up having his wing amputated. Â I named him Crow and he was a happy guy, but ornery! Â A week later someone called me about a crow that had been hit by a car. Â He too, had to have a wing amputated. Â I named him Speedbump. Â They were like Oscar and Felix in the Odd Couple.
Veterinarians got word that I cared for crows, so I started getting calls from vets regarding injured babies. Â When I got Ricky as a nestling, he was covered in Avian Pox. Â It was so sad, cuz he was such a cute determined little guy. Â Another vet called me soon after and had a crow baby that had fallen and looked half-dead. Â He stilled needed gavage, so I went to visit his limp little body at the vet’s every day and prayed over him. Â He recovered, but also had Avian Pox and lost a foot from his fall. Â I named him Moses (although I think Moses has more the personality of a she). Â I don’t know the sex of any of Â my birds except Edgar because he came from a breeder, and my crow, Jack, because she lays eggs (Jack came to me from a friend who felt Jack was lonely at home all day).”
When asked how old her birds are, Debbie repied, “My original babies are now 5 and 6. Â Ricky had no example to teach him to fly, so he would stand on the floor and pivot on one foot flapping his wings just going around in a circle! Â Edgar is now 4 years old. Â They become sexually mature at 3 years old.”
Keeping Crows or Ravens as pets is no easy task, and should only be done if you have ample space, experience, and most of all – time.
“Crows are very social. Â If you get one, make sure you get another to keep it company. Â Read up on the social structure that crow families keep and you will understand. Â Don’t insult their intelligence; like a parrot they need to be mentally stimulated with interesting toys and puzzles, and they don’t forget when you do something bad to them. Â They are so smart they will blow your mind, and you don’t have to split their tongues to make them talk. Â I have 12 out of 13 corvids that say human words and phrases. Â If you are near water, please be aware of the dangers of West Nile Virus, that’s why I keep mine inside. Â Make sure that they are caged in a big enough space. Â Mine play catch with little play balls and jacks; engage with them. Â But most of all remember; no matter how tame they may seem, they are STILL wild animals, so be on guard when they are Â near your eyes or little children and pets!”
Edgar Destroys the Couch
At the end of the day, Debbie’s contribution to the world via her prolific celebration of these birds is something to be admired by all.Â Her magical connection with her birds is hopefully an inspiration to those of you who love Ravens.Â There are several ways you can get close to them in your community, such as volunteering for your local Audubon or Wildlife Rehabiliation Center, or take Cornell Lab’s Bird Study Course.
“There is NOTHING like having a wild animal close to you and looking you in the eyes adoringly. Â People that think animals don’t have emotions have just never connected with one. Â Edgar , Reno (raven), Ricky and Moses all look me in the eye like they love me, and bill clack at me like they’re trying to tell me something.”