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Yellowknife went to the birds Saturday night as "thousands" of ravens were witnessed causing a ruckus over downtown Yellowknife. Restaurant owner Pierre LePage said the awning above the former Robin's Nest restaurant was black with the birds Saturday night. Even Monday evening, many ravens were still seen in the area. - Galit Rodan/NNSL photo

Ravens cause a ruckus
Residents wonder what prompted such a large number of birds to gather

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yellowknifers normally don't bat an eyelash when they see a raven unless it is making a mess of somebody's garbage or teasing a dog.

That wasn't the case Saturday night, however, when downtown Yellowknife was seemingly overrun by "thousands" of the black birds.

"Oh, Saturday night, that day we had a Christmas party and there were thousands. There were thousands of ravens above the buildings. Like, I haven't seen that many ravens all at once, I don't think," said Pierre LePage, who was hosting guests at his restaurant, Le Frolic.

He said the ravens didn't cause a problem for him that night, but the next morning he came in to see eight ravens causing a ruckus in his garbage.

"You know the awning where the Robin's Nest used to be? It was just black, full of ravens," he said. "But Saturday night was wild. It was weird. It was creepy."

The ravens were seen again in smaller numbers throughout Sunday and on Monday morning, inspiring Mayor Gord Van Tighem to call Yellowknifer.

"If you want your Christmas ravens picture, just go outside and around the corner," said Van Tighem. By the time Yellowknifer was on scene near Le Frolic Monday morning the ravens had left.

Weledeh MLA and bird expert Bob Bromley offered a theory for why there were so many ravens, though he didn't see them himself.

"That's very unusual ... but there is a history where ravens roost communally, so they get together and typically are some miles out of town and you will see them flying out of town," said Bromley. "But they have been known over the years to roost right downtown and they will be hanging all over the Yellowknife Inn and maybe the Stuart Hodgson building and it's quite possible that they would choose (Northern Heights)," said Bromley.

He said they've previously roosted near the Scotia Centre.

"They would coat the pine trees there and clip the leaves a little bit, so you can still see that some of those trees there have a bit of a haircut," said Bromley.

He said because owls have been seen in town perhaps one spooked a conspiracy of ravens.

"Owls are a real enemy of ravens and in fact if they spot an owl often they will pursue it and even kill it in a mass," said Bromley. "But at night the advantage is always on the owls."

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