Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Conspiracy of Ravens

The presidential candidate keeps two of the free-minded birds as wild pets. They’re much better behaved than his old emu, Toby, who would attack his wife, Cheryl Hines.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Conspiracy of Ravens |

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. using scraps of meat to entice his two ravens at his Los Angeles home last week. He has long been fascinated with birds, keeping ravens, crows, owls and other species as pets throughout his life.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was getting annoyed, fingers tapping on his lawn chair. As a reporter and a photographer crouched expectantly in the bushes behind his Los Angeles home, his two wild ravens were refusing to cooperate with a photo shoot.

“I’m not going to reward their bad behavior,” he said at last, closing the greasy bag of meat scraps he had brought out for the birds. He strode into the house, trailed by a dog.

As an independent presidential candidate, Mr. Kennedy, 70, has leaned into his storied political lineage, his career in environmental law and his caustic anti-establishment beliefs that at times veer into conspiracy theory. But an often overlooked part of his pitch to voters is his image, long cultivated and not very lightly worn, as a rugged outdoorsman with a quirky enthusiasm for wildlife and nature.

And yet I was surprised recently when a routine phone call to ask Mr. Kennedy for comment about another article was interrupted by a loud “caw” at the other end of the line.

Asked what the sound was, Mr. Kennedy paused, then said, “I have a couple of pet ravens.”

I had many questions, the most pressing of which was: “Can I meet the ravens?” (Another, left unspoken, was: Are they after the brain worm?) I was going to be out in Los Angeles the next weekend anyway.

“Sure,” he said.

ImageWhen Mr. Kennedy and his wife, Cheryl Hines, moved into their home about four years ago, he noticed a pair of ravens nesting. A few months ago, he said, he decided to try to tame them using food.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

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