Monday, March 26, 2012

Inspired by the Raven

Young A'lala by Amanda Corlies Sandos
It wasn't just Edgar Allan Poe who inspired my  fascination with the raven, though he very well may have started it. Of course, in my youth, I had no idea how to tell a raven from a crow from any other Corvid. But, I soon learned, because the idea that a bird could be smart really sparked my imagination. So, I was pretty young when I started making friends with all things raven. I tried to talk my mom into letting me have one as a pet. That idea, sadly, never flew. Probably, because I'd already tried to talk her into all kinds of other pets, and she was wise to my antics.

Begging Baby A'lala by Amanda Corlies Sandos
Anyway, as you know, I eventually ended up working with birds, and I was always quick to volunteer for work with any member of the Corvid family. About midway through my zoo career, I landed a coveted internship with The Keauhou Bird Conservation Center on The Big Island of Hawaii.

Yes, I actually convinced my boss to send me to paradise for an extended stay and pay me for it, too. Officially, I went there to learn about incubation and hand rearing techniques for all of the highly endangered Hawaiian native species. Secretly, I was over the moon at the chance to work with Alalas. Also, called The Hawaii Crow, the Alala is now extinct in the wild. Though Keauhou has been trying a release program to restock the wild population, the release efforts have not yet been successful. For now, they continue to work towards freeing the environment of disease vectors and introduced species, and they are keeping the population alive entirely through their captive breeding programs.

Feeding with a puppet by Amanda Corlies Sandos
Getting to know these amazing birds was an adventure. They are incredibly smart, smarter than my imagination even gave them credit for, and each one has a very distinct personality. I made quite a few Corvid friends in Hawaii, and they continue to spark my imagination in more ways than one.

Ravens and Crows continue to frequent both my visual art and my writing. When I sat down with Andi Lea and West Thornhill to brainstorm a new young adult scifi fantasy adventure series, we quickly came to the decision that we wanted all of our characters to go to the same high school. Of course, this meant finding a mascot. In my book, you can't find a better mascot than a raven.

As it turns out, we named the whole project The Ravens Crossing, and I'm extremely proud of it! 
         And every time I hear the name, I am reminded that the inspiration came from my friends the Alalas.

Alala by Amanda Corlies Sandos

1 comment:

Andi Lea said...

Awesome birds! And I was lucky enough to have one adopt me as a friend and come live with me. Amazingly smart!