Are the Sandhu ravens raving mad?

Chapman’s most decorated bike rack situated between Sanduh Residence & Conference Center and Henley Hall. Photo by Annie Fisher

Persistent but incompetent home builders annoy residents by covering bikes with sticks.

Ravens trying to build a nest under the Sandhu roof are tormenting second-floor resident Annie Fisher and other students who find their bikes below covered with poop and debris.

A pair of common ravens have been trying to build a nest on a gapped overhang just below Sandhu’s roof for about a month. The debris they collect to construct their nursery falls throughout the day, rap, rap, rapping on dorm windows and accumulating around the bike rack below.

Fisher, who would like to nevermore be bothered by the tapping, rapping and mess, dubbed her avian annoyers with names.

“The boy is called Damien and the girl is Medusa… They are devilish birds and I hate them and they deserve devilish names,” said the sophomore business

Damien and Medusa perched at their unsuccessful nesting site. Photo by Julien Khvang

The pair want to build a home one window away from Fisher’s room but despite their species’ legendary intelligence and problem-solving skills, can’t seem to figure out how to get the sticks they bring to stay on the timbered perch. Yet, they persist.

Their futile home building efforts irk Fisher in multiple ways.

Like the bird in the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem, there is a constant “rapping, rapping” on Fisher’s window made by the sticks they drop. The cawing, most frequent around 7 a.m., sounds like “a screaming child,” Fisher said.

In the wild, common ravens have been known to make their nests on trees and, not unlike the spot they’ve chosen, cliffs under rocky overhangs. In urban settings they make do with what is available, according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Ornithologist and professor of biology at Chapman, Dr. Walter Piper, offers some insight as to why Damien and Medusa may have failed to produce their nest at this site.

You must understand that humans provide a dizzying array of what look like good nesting sites…. but sometimes are not. So the birds are applying behaviors that they adopted for nature to human structures, sometimes with bad outcome. Also important to know that nest building involves learning, so this may be a young pair starting out, Piper explains.

The love birds might just be too inexperienced and confused to get anything done or realize that there are better nesting sites available

As a result, not only Fisher’s mornings, but also the bike racks below the would-be aerie are taking a hit. Students return to find their rides covered in a hail of sticks.

Chapman’s landscape maintenance team, Brightview, deals with the issue periodically according to Sharri U’ILani Akau, assistant director of Residence Life and First Year Experience.

“This has been an ongoing issue for a while,” Akau said.

Common ravens often re-use the same nesting sites for many years, according to the Seattle Audubon Society. So, there’s no guarantee that they won’t return next year.

The birds “are the definition of insanity because they are doing the same thing over and over again and trying to get a different result, but there’s not a different result,” said Samantha White, a sophomore graphic design major and Fisher’s dorm mate.





Julien Khvang

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