By David Stewart White
As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, American football fans fixate on the looming battle between San Francisco's 49ers and Baltimore's Ravens. At least one famous group of ravens is paying no attention to the big game.
The Tower of London is home to seven ravens and they play an important role in the British capital. The captive birds are kept on the grounds of the ancient fortress, wing feathers clipped to prevent escape. Reason? Ancient British legend claims that if the ravens leave, the Tower would crumble and the Kingdom would fall. King Charles II was enough of a believer to dictate that at least six birds must be on duty at all times.
Today's raven residents are a colorfully-named lot: Hugine, Erin, Merlin, Munin, Rocky, Pearl and Porsha. The birds live a comfortable life, with carefully controlled diets, good veterinary care, and constant attention by human keepers (a Raven master and an assistant).
No word on whether the Tower of London's ravens have pecked, er picked, a favorite in Sunday's Super Bowl, but 49ers fans might want to look elsewhere.