[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 1 June, 2003, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Injured raven enjoys tower life
Raven Master Derrick Coyle with tower raven
Derrick Coyle is charged with caring for the tower ravens
A raven found injured on an Anglesey beach has been whisked away to a new life at one of London's most famous visitor attractions.

But the bird will have to earn its keep, as it has joined seven other ravens at the Tower of London appointed to protect the British Isles.

The raven's flight of fancy began when it was discovered with an injured wing in the sand dunes near Aberffraw beach in north Wales by Tom Unite who lives in Llanfaelog.

Mr Unite and his wife Sandra, took the bird to the vet who suggested they got in touch with the tower.

It has now been collected by the attraction's Raven Master Derrick Coyle.

They are caged overnight to protect them from predators and are fed six ounces of raw meat every day
Raven master Derrick Coyle

Ravens have been kept in the Tower since King Charles II decreed there should always be at least six kept at all times.

Legend has it that should the ravens ever leave the White Tower it will crumble, and a great disaster befall the country.

The number of birds dropped to just one during World War II, but the tradition has always remained.

Blood-soaked biscuits

Mr Coyle said the birds enjoyed a very good life in his care.

"Ravens in the wild live to about 10 or 15 years," he said.

"The oldest tower raven lived to the age of 44 and the current oldest is Hardey, who is 26.

"They are caged overnight to protect them from predators like the urban fox and are fed six ounces of raw meat every day."

The birds' diet consists of fresh chicken, beef or liver, a boiled egg every other day, fruit and the odd rabbit - complete with fur - for roughage" according to Mr Coyle.

They are also partial to bird formula biscuits soaked in blood.

The Aberffraw raven with its injured wing is an ideal candidate for the group as it cannot fly very well.

Mr Coyle clips the wings of the birds to unbalance them so that they do not stray too far away.

'Unsatisfactory conduct'

However, the new bird in town will have to behave unless it wants to go the same way as one of its Welsh predecessors.

George came to the Tower in 1975 after being discovered with mate, Larry, in Penrhos, Anglesey.

Tower of London
The first foundations of the Tower of London were laid more than 900 years ago

They were both named after the coastguards who found them, despite turning out to be female.

George, however, had to leave the tower in disgrace for "unsatisfactory conduct" in 1986 after he "developed an unhealthy taste in TV aerials."

"He was very naughty and was sent away to the Welsh Mountain Zoo," says Mr Coyle.

The Anglesey raven is currently at London Zoo where it is being sexed.

As soon as it is known whether it is a male or female, a campaign will be launched to give it a name.

Mr Coyle is already suggesting the name of the latest addition to the historic aviary should reflect its Welsh origins.


SEE ALSO:
Raven marks 21 years at Tower
26 Sep 02  |  England
Beefing about home insurance
27 Mar 03  |  England


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific