Lorraine Gow, Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre head of birds talks about Ragnar the raven

Even though we care for thousands of birds at the centre every year, it’s very rare to care for a raven. We care for more eagles each year than we do ravens and last year we only had two.

One was Rory, who was featured on Born to be Wild. Despite our best efforts, Rory sadly wasn’t able to recover from the injuries he arrived with. We were all devastated Rory didn’t make it but thankfully the second raven, Ragnar, was successfully rehabilitated.  He was named as such because the raven is an important symbol in Viking history. There’s nobody better to name him after than Ragnar, one of the most famous characters in their folklore and the lead character in the series Vikings.


Ragnar came to us in December last year after he was found on a beach in Shetland covered in a substance which was interfering with his ability to fly. Although Ragnar was emaciated and looked bedraggled due to the coating on his feathers, we were relieved vet Romain found no signs of injury after examining him. We started his rehabilitation by feeding him and allowing him time to recover. It took three washes to fully get the substance off his wings and allow him to be able to fly.

Ragnar was such a character, a real gentle giant. Wild animals are naturally fearful around humans but I think he knew we were trying to help him as he didn’t bite, like many birds do, and he wouldn’t struggle when picked up.  Ravens are incredibly intelligent, they are always one step ahead.  Research has shown that in the wild, they are able to use tools as well as problem solve and even count.

We put him in the aviary so he could gain strength and allow his feathers to become weathered.  We also had to keep up with his appetite as he really loved his food.

We released Ragnar in February at a suitable release site in the Scottish countryside.  Ravens are found across Scotland and are known to fly across Europe, so we can only imagine where he is now.

Scottish SPCA Wildlife Assistant with deer fawns

Wildlife rescue

Every year the Scottish SPCA rescues thousands of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.

In 2017 we cared for over 9,600 wild animals - a new record!

We help every kind of wild animal in Scotland and are the only national animal welfare charity which rescues birds.

Find out more about our wildlife rescue work.