02 AUG 2019: According to legend, if the ravens at the Tower of London ever leave, the Tower will crumble and a great harm will befall the kingdom. “Fear not,” advises Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), “for the ravens have been feathering their nests and have ensured there will always be corvids ruling the roost at the famous fortress."

Indeed, for the first time since 1989 four healthy chicks have been born at the Tower. Hatched on April 23 – St. George’s Day – the raven that will be staying at the Tower will be called George or Georgina in honour of the occasion.

The Tower usually has six ravens at any given time, although there are currently seven, plus the breeding pair Huginn and Muninn and their chicks. Only one of the chicks will stay at the Tower to join the other ravens this summer when it is older.

The ‘lovebirds’ arrived at the Tower at the end of 2018 and it wasn’t expected the pair would have settled in time for the breeding season, which typically falls in late March, however in mid-April Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife, the Ravenmaster at the Tower, noticed chirruping chicks.

“My suspicions were first piqued that we might have a chance of baby chicks when the parents built a huge nest suddenly overnight and then almost immediately the female bird started to sit on it,” said Skaife. “Then on April 23 I noticed the birds going to the nest with food… Having worked with the ravens here at the Tower for the last 13 years and getting to know each of them, I feel like a proud father!”

The chicks feed at least every two hours on a diet of quail, mice and rats, provided to them by the Ravenmaster. Their recognizable iridescent black plumage is coming through, although it will take almost a year for their beaks to turn from pink to black.

It was King Charles II (1630-1685) who first decreed that the Tower ravens should be protected, despite the protests of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained that the birds impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.

Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. Members of the travel trade are invited to visit www.hrp.org.uk/travel-trade for resources, including a trade image library, online group booking guide and copies of the Fanfare newsletter.

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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