One of many iconic ravens that resides within the Tower of London is lacking, and officers worry the worst. Will the tower fall, as legend warns? (In all probability not.)
Merlina, a feminine raven (Corvus corax), joined the corvid group on the tower in 2007, and has reigned since then as “the ruler of the roost,” tower representatives tweeted in a thread on Jan. 13.
However Merlina, one in all seven royal ravens within the tower, has been lacking for a number of weeks, “and her continued absence signifies to us that she could have sadly handed away,” representatives wrote in one of the tweets.
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The Tower of London, in the UK, is a lofty fortress constructed by William the Conqueror; he started its development within the 1070s, and different monarchs additional enlarged and strengthened the constructing, in keeping with the U.Okay. web site Historic Royal Palaces (HRP). Inside its fortified partitions, Britain’s kings and queens have imprisoned traitors to the crown; staged executions; stockpiled weapons; and hoarded valuable jewels.
Additionally they created a house there for a small group of ravens (the birds have been recognized collectively as “an unkindness” since at the least 1486, when the time period was revealed in “The E book of St. Albans,” in keeping with Merriam-Webster). Lore courting to the times or Charles II — King of Scotland, England and Eire from 1660 to 1685 — states that six ravens should stay within the tower always, and “the crown and the Tower itself would fall in the event that they left,” in keeping with HRP.
Right this moment, there are seven ravens residing there; six “official” birds, and one spare, HRP says. Merlina, together with Erin, Grip, Harris, Jubilee and Poppy, occupied lodgings within the Tower’s South Garden (the so-called spare raven shouldn’t be named on the HRP web site). One of many Tower guards, generally known as a Beefeater or a Yeoman Warder, can be the designated Ravenmaster, tasked with caring for the birds. Christopher Skaife is the present Ravenmaster, feeding his fees blood-soaked canine biscuits “as a particular deal with;” settling flock-based feuds; and foiling escape makes an attempt, the Audubon Society wrote in a profile in 2018.
Merlina was “a free-spirited raven,” and she or he went lacking round Christmastime, Skaife told BBC News on Jan. 14. Feathers within the wings of Tower ravens are repeatedly trimmed to maintain the birds near residence, although the birds are nonetheless in a position to fly brief distances. Regardless of these precautions, among the extra adventurous ravens nonetheless handle to stray too far, HRP representatives mentioned.
“There’s a lengthy and storied historical past of the ravens being noticed out and about across the native space, together with a pair who used to nest at St Paul’s Cathedral,” HRP representatives informed Stay Science in an e mail. “In 2011, one of many present ravens — Munin — reached so far as Greenwich [5 miles or 8 kilometers from London], earlier than being returned per week later. Nevertheless, the ravens typically select to remain on the Tower, the place they’re extremely well-fed and cared for by the Ravenmaster and his staff,” they mentioned.
Sadly, Merlina’s extended absence means that the long-standing “queen” will return residence nevermore.
“She will likely be enormously missed by her fellow ravens, the Ravenmaster and all of us within the Tower group,” tower representatives tweeted.
Initially revealed on Stay Science.