Travelling down the Yukon’s Dempster Highway in mid-December can be seen by some as an often solitary experience.
But for one Quadra Island couple, they had what one may call unique company.
Alex Lavoie and his partner, Jodi Young, were travelling the 740 km highway on Dec. 10 when a raven decided to swoop in and make their acquaintance by flying for more than 45 minutes alongside their vehicle.
The result was a Youtube video of the bird which has been seen more than 5,000 times since it was uploaded on Dec. 13. Lavoie says that while the video was only 23 minutes long, the encounter lasted more than 45.
“We were looking for a new experience,” says Lavoie, who was travelling south following a six-month stint in White Plans, YT. “We travelled up north to gain that type of experience.”
As the bird swooped alongside, there are several moments where it ducked out of view — only to come back into the picture. Driving along the empty highway, Lavoie admits there were some tense moments.
“I was driving about 80 km/h when the raven initially swooped down,” said Lavoie. “I was definitely quite nervous at first when it went out of sight. After a while I felt more comfortable with it being close.”
Ravens are often seen as spiritual animals, with the birds symbolizing intelligence, opportunity and guidance. It certainly felt that way to Lavoie’s girlfriend, as at one point in the video, Young can be heard to say the bird was leading them toward their destination.
“I think Ravens are extremely intelligent animals,” said Lavoie. “I believe it could have been catching the draft in an effort to save energy. Food sources are limited in the winter and saving precious energy would have been a reason to tag along.”
Toward the end of the video, Lavoie gets out and goes near the animal with food. With his belongings packed tight in his car, the only thing he had available was cat treats.
“I wanted to stop to see how comfortable it was with people,” said Lavoie. “After feeding it some Temptations cat treats we drove off. It caught up again and followed for another 20-plus minutes.”
Uploading the video to YouTube, he thought mainly it was only going to be for friends and family — Lavoie certainly did not expect the video to gain the traffic it indeed has.
“A friend shared the video and it just blew up from there,” Lavoie said.
Lavoie and Young are travelling around for the holidays. Flying out from Whitehorse to Winnipeg to see family, and eventually heading to the Galapagos Islands next.
Still, the encounter with the raven is something he’ll never forget.
“I’ve been lucky enough to experience many close encounters with wildlife,” Lavoie said. “But this one is in the books for sure.”