Beefeaters in a flap over ravens

Tower of London: Yeomen decide rogue birds are nothing to crow about
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The Independent Online
JOJO MOYES

Two were dismissed this year for "going rogue", one was removed following unprovoked attacks on a television aerial, and one was last seen outside a pub in the East End. Staff at the Tower of London hope the tenures of Thor and Odin will be less problematic.

The two ravens, who were rescued as fledglings by the Forestry Commission, were presented to the Yeoman Raven Master David Cope yesterday. The brothers replace Charlie who died in August, following a fatal meeting with Charlie, the Police Springer Spaniel.

"They settled down pretty quickly. But it was quite obvious their characters fitted their names," a spokeswoman for the Tower said. "Thor was making a terrible racket and got quite cross."

Their arrival brings the total number of ravens at the Tower to nine. King Charles II decreed that there should be always at least six at the Tower, to prevent disaster befalling the kingdom, and two more are kept "in reserve". But it was felt the pair, who will be fed on bird biscuits soaked in blood and the odd rabbit, would be happier if kept together.

Erratic behaviour from previous ravens has led to a number of official expulsions. George was banished in 1986 to the Welsh Mountain Zoo for "unsatisfactory conduct".

"He was bending TV aerials and ripping them out. The Padre's aerial he took particular offence to. It was very unfortunate," the spokeswoman said. Worse was the behaviour of ravens Hugine and Jackie who were dismissed earlier this month with a "Tower Order" that stated their services were no longer required following "conduct unbecoming to Tower Residents".

Hugine and Jackie, it emerged, had become a little aggressive following their mating period. "It's called "going rogue," the Tower spokeswoman said. "They just didn't calm down".

Following their arrival at the zoo, the explanation for their rather aggressive courtship became clear. Jackie and Hugine were both male.

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