Animal care technician Megan Buemann, with blind raven ambassador Dougal as he shows off for the camera at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Animal care technician Megan Buemann, with blind raven ambassador Dougal as he shows off for the camera at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Dougal the blind raven enjoys role as ambassador at North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Bird helps animal care technicians teach visitors about his species

In 2018, a small fledgling raven was found on the ground and brought into the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington.

The on-site veterinarian, Dr. Malcolm MacAdie, soon assessed that the bird was blind and that he’d been abandoned by his parents and left to fend for himself. Though still able to make out shadows and movement, it was unlikely he could ever see well enough to survive on his own.

Centre founder Robin Campbell began glove-training the fledgling so he could become a permanent resident and part of their ‘non-releasable’ viewing area. Campbell then named the fledgling Dougal, which means ‘dark stranger’ in Scottish Gaelic.

Dougal is now one of four learning ambassadors at the centre and part of their education program. He is a Common Raven, which can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, including most of Canada and the western United States.

He’d been chosen because of his personality and the fact that he took to glove-training quickly. As a learning ambassador, he interacts with crowds on a near-daily basis and helps animal care technicians educate visitors about his species.

While he is capable of flight, he will often fall directly to the ground or into a tree and injure himself. This can also happen if there is a sudden movement made towards him.

READ MORE: Eagle healed and returned to the sky

In the wild, ravens can live up to 20 years, but in captivity, that can be doubled, said Megan Buemann, an animal care technician.

At only two years old, Dougal has a long life ahead of him.

“He’s still like a toddler right now,” said Buemann.

According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, ravens are one of the most intelligent birds in Canada. Buemann said ravens can have the intelligence of a seven-year-old, and that Dougal’s enclosure always has toys for him to play with.

“He definitely knows how to work the system.”

Dougal has a wide range of sounds he can mimic, from a car horn to human speech. But his favourite sounds to respond to are deep male or children’s voices.

His day-to-day handlers are Buemann and Derek Downes, another animal care technician, though Buemann believes he “holds a special place in his heart for Robin”.

An omnivore, Dougal’s favourite food for the time being is raspberries, but he also enjoys canned dog food, raw red meat and hard-boiled eggs. Wild ravens have been know to eat other bird’s eggs and small mammals.

Each morning Dougal is taken from his enclosure, where he feds and sleeps, and released to explore the rest of his space. Depending on his mood, he might have a bath, talk to nearby visitors, or respond to wild crows within earshot. For an hour a day, he’ll spend time with either Downes or Buemann on the glove to socialize and “hang out”.

Dougal is an adoptable animal through donations on the NIWRC website, though he remains at the centre. Depending on the adoption package, donors can receive a matted colour photograph of him, and a personalized adoption certificate.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

animal welfarebirdsWildlife

Just Posted

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Vancouver Island mom hopes her tattoos will earn a magazine cover shoot

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
DeMeer: And Then There Were None opened my eyes to books

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

One of the approximately 1,200 street lights within the city of Parksville that will be changed to 3000 Kelvin LED under BC Hydro’s Streetlight Replacement Project. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville to go ahead with 3000K streetlights for BC Hydro project

Concerns about excessive brightness and resident privacy raised

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

LaRae Richards loads an order for deliver via Uber Eats Wednesday afternoon at Red Onion Burgers in Mountlake Terrace on May 17, 2017.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Uber Eats service area expands to Saanich Peninsula

Delivery platform launched in Victoria in 2018

OrcaFest parade 2019. (North Island Gazette file photo)
COVID-19: Port McNeill’s annual OrcaFest cancelled again

“We promise you that once we are safely able to do so, OrcaFest will be back!!”

Matt Simpson at the Chemainus Ball Park where he spent a lot of his development time over the years. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Cool transition to college baseball in Wisconsin for Island ballplayer

Chemainus baseball product anxious to get going after last season lost due to COVID

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Most Read