Ravens Imprisoned in the Tower

The Chronicle (actually the Washington Post) tells us today that Branwen, Hugine, Munin, Gwyllum, Thor, and Baldrick have been put in protective custody in a comfortable cell in the Tower of London. Obviously I am not making up those names; who could?

This is to protect them from the infamous H5N1 flu. Should the ravens at the Tower expire, the Tower will fall, and with it the kingdom. They can't be removed from the Tower, under a decree of Charles II. The master of the ravens, Derrick Coyle, puts on protective clothing, for their protection, not his, when he feeds them.

They seem to be taking well to it.
"The first day they were a little bit stressed," Coyle said. But now, he added, "They're eating very well and Thor, the one who talks, said, 'good morning' straight away" when he visited the birds on Tuesday. He said the birds are eating their normal diet of hard-boiled eggs, apples, biscuits soaked in blood, beef liver, vitamin tablets and chicken."
"Good morning", eh?
Q. After a severe storm we found this old male raven in the study of my father, the Hon. George Morton Bodwell, for may years head of the Latin Department at Tufts, sitting on a bust of Livy which was a gift to him from the class of '92. All that the old bird will say is "Grawk." Can ravens be taught to talk or was Poe merely "romancing"?

A. I am handicapped by an uncertainty as to who says "Grawk," the raven or your father. It just happens that "Arrk" is what ravens say. I have never known a raven that said anything but "arrk."

-- James Thurber, pet advice column from The Owl in the Attic
Unnecessary to add: Time for Mr. Coyle to worry, when Thor drops his "Good morning" for "Nevermore."

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