Where can I get a pet Crow or Raven?

Let me make this clear before I go any further: Crows and Ravens are wild animals, and are not pets in the same way that cats and dogs are. It is unfair to keep wild animals in captivity, and (unless you have the right facilities) can border on cruel. It is also illegal. Wild birds are protected by most state laws, and you can be charged or fined for keeping a wild bird in captivity.

However, many people have had great experiences raising orphaned birds, or befriending an injured bird and nursing it back to health. Some people go on to rehabilitate and release the bird. Others choose not to (especially if the bird has a broken wing and will never fly again) and instead keep them as 'pets'.

Before you decide you want a crow or raven as a pet, please ask yourself why you want one. "Because it would be cool" is a very poor reason, and more than slightly egocentric. Birds (especially corvids) require a lot of care, a lot of freedom, and a lot of your time. If you really love and admire these birds, enjoy them from a distance - let them stay free!

If you've thought a lot about it, and are still interested in caring for a corvid, there are a few things I'd suggest. The first is talking to a bird rehabilitation society. Wildlife sanctuaries, raptor shelters, and many aviaries will take in injured and orphaned birds, and are almost always willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Many are glad to accept volunteers, and will train you to care for birds properly (something which pet stores and independent breeders are often lax about). If people bring injured crows or orphaned ravens to the shelter, you'll get first hand experience in caring for them, without the responsibility of being the sole caregiver.

Volunteering at a bird sanctuary gives you experience with a variety of birds, not just crows and ravens, and that can be very useful. The more you learn about birds as a whole, the better you'll be able to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the corvidae family. You'll also learn about the time & commitment needed to care for a bird, and about why wild animals should stay free.

(If that sounds like too much of a hassle for you, please rethink your desire for a pet raven. If you aren't willing to put some effort into it, and learn as much as you can about corvids so that you can give them the best care possible, then maybe you're approaching this with the wrong attitude.)

If your volunteering goes well, and your interest is genuine, sometimes a shelter will 'foster out' young birds, and let you raise them in your home. This is an excellent way to interact with crows and ravens, under the supervision of people who can give you guidance and support when you need it. Of course, the emphasis is on rehabilitation and eventual release: if all goes well, you won't keep the bird for long. It will return to the wild, and be much happier in the long run.

Another place to look for crows and ravens is through a veterinarian. Many vets receive calls or visits from people who've found injured and orphaned birds, and don't know what to do with them. Some vets can't be bothered with too many 'charity cases', but most will do what they can to help these birds. And every now and then, they'll be brought a raven or crow which needs more attention than the vet can give it.

If you have the knowledge and the skills to care for such a bird, the vet might give it to you. It helps, of course, if you're on good terms with the vet, and have proven that you'd be a competent caregiver - not just someone who thinks it'd be neat to own a crow.

There are a few more sources for people looking for pet crows and ravens. Some breeders raise crows, either because they are non-native to the US and fall under different laws, or because they have special permits to do so. These breeders rarely give birds away for free. You can expect to pay well over $100 for individuals, and more for breeding pairs.

I'm slowly working on a list of breeders who have crows or ravens available for sale. I can't recommend any of them (since I've never seen them or spoken to them personally) but you can see what I've got so far if you're interested: Click here for a list of Breeders.

The most common way of acquiring a crow or raven, however, is still through coincidence and word of mouth. Almost everyone I know of who has raised a crow or raven (including myself) just happened to be there at the right time. If friends know of your interest in crows and ravens, many of them will be happy to spread the word that you want one... and on the odd chance that someone finds a crow or raven in need, it's usually quick to get back to you.

So - do your research. Learn what you can. Volunteer where you can. Develop a respect for wild things. Be the kind of person who can care for another living creature. And chances are pretty good that when opportunity knocks, you'll not only hear it, but be at the door to welcome it in.


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Last modified April 24, 1999