Tower of London welcomes first raven chicks in 30 years

Image source, Historic Royal Palaces
Image caption, The raven chicks began hatching on St George's Day

Raven chicks have hatched at the Tower of London for the first time in 30 years.

The four new arrivals began hatching on St George's Day following the arrival of breeding pair Huginn and Muninn at the end of last year.

The Tower usually has six ravens at any time and, according to legend, if they ever leave both the fortress and the kingdom will fall.

Ravenmaster Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife said he felt "like a proud father".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, It is not known when ravens first started living at the Tower

It is not known how long ravens have lived at the Tower but it is thought Charles II was the first to insist there must be at least six.

There are currently seven based at the 1,000-year-old fortress, not including the new family.

Image source, Historic Royal Palaces
Image caption, The chicks are fed at least every two hours in the weeks after they hatch
Image source, Historic Royal Palaces
Image caption, It takes a year for a raven chick's beak to turn from pink to black

Since the birds began hatching on 23 April, they have quadrupled in size from about 8cm (3in) to more than 30cm (12in) in height, having been fed on a diet of quail, mice and rats.

One of the chicks is set remain at the Tower and will be called either George or Georgina because of the date the hatching began.

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The Tower's ravens

Image source, Getty Images
  • The first and last raven to be hatched and live at the Tower was named Ronald Raven following a Blue Peter competition in 1989
  • The Tower's current birds are called Erin, Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Gripp, Rocky and Merlina
  • The oldest raven to live at the fortress was born in 1884 and reached the grand old age of 44
  • Charles II's insistence that the birds must always be at the Tower did not please everyone - astronomer John Flamsteed complained they got in the way of his work in the observatory in the White Tower
  • Historically, ravens were kept at the Tower by lightly trimming feathers although this method is not currently used where possible
  • Not all of the Tower's ravens have remained - one named Munin flew off to Greenwich for seven days before being returned. Another named George was dismissed for eating TV aerials, while Grog was last seen outside an East End pub

Source: Historic Royal Palaces

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