Mugs loves watermelon. And going for car rides. The raven showed up at Charlsie Wilcox's place earlier this summer. He's had his ups and downs. When Charlsie found him in her yard earlier this summer, he didn't have all his feathers yet and couldn't fly. She looked around for a nest but could not find one.
"We couldn't be sure which one he came out of and they were all high up in the Russian olive trees," she said.
Ravens tend to build their nests on ledges of rock cliffs, or high in tall trees. They may return to the same site for years, adding material to the top of the old nest.
So, Charlsie took Mugs inside and fed him raw meat and fruit, a good choice. Ravens are omnivorous. They like small pellet dog and cat food, eggs, unsalted nuts, chicken and other meats.
A few weeks later, the Wilcoxes got a call about a second raven that had fallen from her nest. They called her Sunnin.
"We decided to build an outside aviary as we wanted them to be safe but not have a lot of human contact so they could be wild still," Charlsie said. "Mugs quickly took to us. He would hop to our arms and caw when he heard our voices."
Sunnin was more wary. However, she was content to hang out with Mugs as long as the Wilcoxes didn't try to pet her or feed her by hand.
Mugs was another story. After a few days he figured out how to untie the aviary netting and hopped up to the Wilcox's porch every morning for treats. They fed him a variety of foods but his favorite was, and still is, watermelon. He couldn't fly yet because he didn't have all his wings.
Sadly, a mishap struck. Charlsie was fostering a dog with puppies. When she came home one day, she found both birds had gotten into the dog pen. Sunnin was dead.
"I'm sure it was because she was eating the dog food and the mama dog got defensive," she said. One of Mug's wings looked out of kilter; possibly dislocated. Charlsie was concerned he wouldn't be able to get away from predators, including coyotes, hawks, owls and humans.
So, she brought him back inside. After about a week, Mugs hopped and ate well enough to return to the aviary.
"That lasted about two days before he got out of there again," she said. Several weeks went by. Mugs still didn't fly but he followed Charlsie when she fed the animals or mowed the lawn. When it got too hot outside, he followed her in the house.
He also came along on car rides. "His favorite place to visit is my dad's house around the corner," she says.
Then one day it happened. On Monday, July 25, Charlsie was feeding her horses when she heard wings flapping. It was Mugs.
"He flew over from the porch to the horses.
And now he's really on the move. He's visiting all the neighbors around Wilkinson Way. He loves shiny things and will hide stuff in your yard."
Charlsie asks people to call her if they don't want Mugs in their yards. "If you see a raven that tries to eat your dog food, give me a call if you don't want him around," she says.
Or, if you don't mind hanging out with a raven, just feed him watermelon.
Charlsie can be reached at 775-699-4052.