Update 14 December: In line with government guidance, the Tower of London will be closed from 16 December.
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, for the ravens have been feathering their nests and have ensured there will always be corvids ruling the roost at the famous fortress.
Confirmation came this week that proud parents Huginn and Muninn have welcomed four healthy chicks into the world, the first to be hatched at the Tower since 1989.
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 they had built a large nest overnight and within only a few short weeks he could hear the sound of chirruping chicks.
YW Chris Skaife, Ravenmaster at Tower of London, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that we have welcomed four new baby raven chicks, the first to be born at the Tower in 30 years. It was quite unexpected as the parents, Huginn and Muninn, only came to us quite recently but I’m pleased they have settled into life at the Tower.
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, then on the 23 April I noticed the birds going to the nest with food, however it has only been this week that I’ve been able to get up close and see for myself that they have four healthy chicks as I hadn’t wanted to disturb them too much, it’s best to let nature take its course.
Having worked with the ravens here at the Tower for the last thirteen years and getting to know each of them, I feel like a proud father!”
The chicks are currently feeding at least every two hours during this growth development stage. The parents work as a team, the male, Huginn, prepares the food and then passes it to the mother, Muninn, who then gives it to the chicks. They have a varied diet of quail, mice and rats, provided to them by the Ravenmaster. Already, in the last three weeks, the chicks have grown rapidly, having quadrupled in size from hatchlings around 8cm tall to over 30cm and they even have their recognisable iridescent black plumage coming through, although it will take almost a year for their beaks to turn from pink to black.
The Tower usually has six ravens at any given time, although there are currently seven, plus the breeding pair and their chicks. One of the chicks will stay at the Tower and it will join the other ravens later in the summer, when it is older.
As the ravens started to hatch on the 23 April, St George’s Day, the raven that will be staying at the Tower will be called George or Georgina in honour of the occasion.
For further information and images please contact Cat Steventon in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office on [email protected] or telephone: 0203 166 6302.
Please note we have HD and 4K b-roll of the baby chicks in the nest available and an interview with the Ravenmaster. We also have a selection of stills images available although access to the new chicks is not possible at this time.
Facts about the Tower ravens:
Erin (female, Somerset, 2006)
Jubilee (male, Somerset, 2013)
Harris (male, Somerset, 2016)
Poppy (female, Surrey, 2018)
Gripp (male, Somerset, 2013)
Rocky (male, Somerset, 2008)
Merlina (female, South Wales, 2005)
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk