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Extremely rare white raven in intensive care at B.C. wildlife centre

Click to play video: 'Rare white raven in treatment at wildlife rescue centre' Rare white raven in treatment at wildlife rescue centre
Technicians at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington are caring for a rare juvenile white raven. He came to the centre with injured feet. Life expectancy is not good for the birds -- their colouring means they also have compromised immune systems. But with care, there are hopeful signs this this blue-eyed beauty. Kylie Stanton reports – Jun 4, 2021

An extremely rare white raven is currently being cared for at a Vancouver Island wildlife centre after being found last week malnourished and unable to fly.

Derek Downes, an animal care technician at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, said the raven was brought in by a concerned citizen after being found on the ground in the Oceanside area.

Click to play video: 'Injured sacred white raven ‘perking’ up since brought to B.C. rescue centre' Injured sacred white raven ‘perking’ up since brought to B.C. rescue centre
Injured sacred white raven ‘perking’ up since brought to B.C. rescue centre – Jun 4, 2021

The juvenile bird is not able to eat on his own and is currently in an intensive care unit so it has space to recover.

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Downes said in the Oceanside area, north of Nanaimo, they have what has been dubbed the ‘Oceanside Sacred White Raven.’

The rare white raven has been at the centre since last week.
The rare white raven has been at the centre since last week. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Read more: ‘He’s lost’: Southern U.S. bird spotted in Vancouver for 1st time, more than 2,000 km from home

Others have been seen in the area over the years, but they are very rare.

“So it’s actually a leucistic raven,” Downes said. “It does have a little bit of melanin, it’s not a true albino, which lacks all melanin, they do have a little bit of melanin and some, to varying degrees. So, typically in the past, those that have been seen have been stark, stark, white.”

The lack of melanin, or pigment, in white ravens means their feather conditions are poor and their immune system is compromised, he added, meaning usually, white ravens do not make it to adulthood.

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But it is hoped that the presence of grey in his wing means it has a higher level of melanin than other white ravens and therefore a better chance of survival.

Click to play video: 'Rare bird reappears on Vancouver Island after four-year absence' Rare bird reappears on Vancouver Island after four-year absence
Rare bird reappears on Vancouver Island after four-year absence – Jul 4, 2018

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“Really, really hoping we’re going to have some success with this one,” Downes said. “Really hoping we can bring some success to people in these challenging times but know that we’re doing absolutely everything we can for this raven.”

The bird, who has not been named, is starting to improve with tube feedings and antibiotics.

The raven is fed via a tube multiple times a day. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

At the centre, they have six ravens that are not able to be released so they will live at the centre for the rest of their lives.

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Downes said they hope this rare white bird will start eating on his own soon and continue to get better, with the hope that one day it can be released back into the wild.

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