neighbours are moving in

Imagine living all secluded out in the middle of nowhere. No roads, no neighbours. A way of living where few things change.

Imagine living all secluded out in the middle of nowhere. No roads, no neighbours. A way of living where few things change. And then, imagine the feeling of complete astonishment when you find all of a sudden you’re getting neighbours.

It just happened to us.

This has come as a complete surprise, although we were well aware of the old building site they obtained. Hardly any remnants of the old structure remain, but still there are a number of tell-tale signs that at some point, the place had been inhabited.

We hadn’t really noticed anything until a few days ago, Sam spotted a flurry of activity down there. From what we can tell, it seems to be a young couple. We haven’t actually met them yet—although they passed by here a couple of times on the way to their new home, they didn’t stop and talk to us. Now they are busy bringing in all their building material.

It looks like this might be their first attempt at constructing a new home, judging by the way they go about it. Their pile of lumber was so inexpertly stacked that it was knocked over by strong wind gusts yesterday. Today the two of them are occupied with picking it all up again and rearranging it.

We can’t see them from our cabin but if we walk a bit, their building site comes into view. Considering the expanse of unpopulated area around here, they sure are building rather close to us. It is a somewhat awkward situation: the spot they have picked for their home, to raise a family, is right on one of our trails. So of course now we don’t want to use that path anymore; once somebody lives there, it feels like an intrusion to walk right by.

It is a nice spot though. Maybe not the greatest view and a tad windy (as they just found out), but in a beautiful area. They seem quite happy with it. Depending on where the wind is blowing from, we can hear their voices and they certainly sound pretty exuberant. Today, we saw how they were pausing all the time in their work, just sitting there and looking around.

Sam and I are quite excited about our new neighbours, very happy in fact. It is such a bonus to have them here and we can’t wait to see their babies. For they are a pair of ravens, you see.

We had long thought that their chosen spot would be a good location for a raven nest and the major guano stains at the site indicate that it had been occupied in the past—perhaps by more experienced nest-builders than these two.

The fact that much of their nest construction was blown down by yesterday’s strong winds doesn’t seem too promising but for the time being, the ravens are undeterred. They have been hopping around in the snow, picking up the mess of twigs, and flying them back up to the nest-to-be. Both of them seem to take equal part in the nest construction, sometimes clucking to each other as if to discuss the progress of their building project.

As far as we can tell by looking through binoculars, they don’t appear to spend much time fiddling the individual twigs together. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they can find a more secure way to anchor things down.

We are especially thrilled to be able to watch the ravens so close to home, it’s like being tuned to Nature Channel 24/7. Well, living in the woods means we’re tuned to it all the time but admittedly, the programming isn’t always so exciting. We know of a couple more raven nests but they are too far away for regular observation. Already, we’re gleefully thinking of the time in June when the little ones will go on their first wobbly flights.

What with the monstrous snow cover this winter that hasn’t shown much evidence of melting yet, even around the trunks of poplars and willows, I’ve started to feel like spring won’t happen for another two or three months. How wonderful to be proven wrong.

It is a great prelude to spring to watch the two ravens prepare for raising their young ones, and what lovely new neighbours they make.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon

River south of Whitehorse.