Black Bart the Friendly Pirate

Posted by on Dec 29, 2010 in Johnsons from the Front | 0 comments

Black Bart - the Friendly Pirate

Just before Christmas, we had a visitor adopt us … a coal black raven. I have been putting scraps, left over from butchering an elk, out near our pond for the wildlife to enjoy. The birds have really enjoyed this “manna” from heaven. Within minutes of putting out the scraps, magpies show up, followed by ravens, blue birds, and then an occasional red-tailed hawk. Coyotes and bobcats have also visited the banquet.

One day I was kneeling on the ground out in the back yard, splitting some apple wood for the meat smoker, when a raven landed on the fence about 20 feet away. I continued to split wood with my head down when I heard a swish, followed by guttural clucks and clacks. I looked up to see the raven within an arms length, sitting on top of the smoker, softly talking to me in raven language (you have to hear them talk yourselves – it is hard to describe). I slowly stood up and extended my hand to him … I was amazed … he didn’t fly away! Instead he stretched his head toward my hand and gently pecked it. I backed away and went inside to get him some bread. When I came out, he was still waiting for me on top of the smoker. Turns out he doesn’t like bread; however, being a carrion eater, he did enjoy some meat scraps I brought him, eating them right out of my hand. He would occasional grab one of my fingers, just to check its edibility.

Black Bart harassing Archimedes

I went back in the house and got my wife Marilyn, and when we returned he was still there waiting for us. We spent quite a bit of time with the raven that morning, watching him “harass” Q-tip (our small pet dog) and Archimedes (our very plump cat). He would keep just out of reach of the two pesky pets by “crow-hopping”, and as soon as they turned their backs to him, he would bounce up and grab their tails with his beak. I can tell you, they acted most indignant to this cheeky bird’s behavior.

I decided to name the bird Black Bart the Friendly Pirate because he has the habit of carrying off anything small and light enough to pick up in his beak. He has stolen several of our grandkids’ outdoor toys, sidewalk chalk, small toy shovel, and even tried to fly off with the red handled butane lighter we keep by the barbeque grill. I won’t let him in the garage with me … there are too many tools lying about for his thieving pleasure! He usually visits us once a day to check up on his adopted family.

Black Bart's Thieving Ways

The Bible mentions the raven six different times … a raven was the first bird Noah sent off the Ark after the flood. The raven is just another example of God’s wonderful Creation.

Lanny Johnson

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