Of Crows, Cats and Cows

It’s funny when life “turns a phrase” on you. Riding a big yellow school bus the other day up the shore, Natelle turned to me and said, “So what was with the baby cow?”

“Cow?” I replied.

“Yes,” she said, “How did you come to rescue a baby cow?”

I quickly replied, “We rescued a baby crow, not a cow,” and went on to tell the story of Bird. Bird, a nestling crow, was doing a good imitation of a plucked Cornish hen on Michelle and Kellie’s deck. As their “outdoor friends,” they asked us to intervene with the ‘baby bird’ that had died on their deck. With EMT skills at the ready, Marian and I jumped to the fore but quickly realized our search image was all wrong. I’d expected an itty-bitty teeny-weenie bird not the black mass of pterodactyl-ness we found lying limp.

Marian said, “I think it’s dead.” I went looking for a container.

“Wait,” she exclaimed. “It just took a breath.” I went looking for a towel instead. I scooped up the nearly naked young one and tucked up under my clothes next to my belly (I’d learned this in Australia as what you do if you find a young kangaroo). It was clearly hypothermic and needed warmth. We’d been heading to a canoe trip meeting and we brought Bird along. Bird, of course, wasn’t called Bird yet because we expected Bird to die any minute. I think the three men at the meeting thought we were a bit cracked but at the end of the meeting, Bird was still breathing.

We arrived home and went to the fountain of all knowledge, Google, and began our research with the search terms baby, crow, and rescue. Turns out there was lots of info and we were able to determine that Bird was indeed a nestling, indeed a crow and indeed needed human intervention (unlike a fledging crow which is likely fine sorting out how to be a crow with its crow family). We tucked Bird into a box with a charcoal hand warmer wrapped up in a towel and once again, didn’t really expect to have Bird still living in the morning.

I checked during the night, Bird was hanging in. In the morning, Bird was still there and following Google advice, it was time to see if Bird would feed on the softened dog kibble we’d prepared. With Marian holding Bird, I tried my best to play Momma Crow and tried to sort out how you gently pry open Bird’s beak and then deposit the tasty morsel in the back of Bird’s throat. Bird was still a pretty limp mushy being at this point. After three awkward tries, I finally succeeded and Bird squawked and I nearly jumped to the ceiling. The small limp lifeless bird in front of us turned into a gaping red maw and I thought it was going to swallow the two of us whole.

Bird seemed to gain strength with every bite and then dropped into a sleep only to open it’s Grand Canyon of a mouth 20 minute later for more food. We got more coordinated and could soon throw food down Bird’s throat like the best of them. We drove Bird out to the Salmonier Nature Park to turn Bird over to the Wildlife Rehab experts–they said they would try to rear Bird in such a way that reintroduction to the wild would be possible. We’d worried that Bird would imprint on us but the truth is, we’ve imprinted on Bird.

We now see crows everywhere. We watch crow videos and want to read crow books. I know mountains more now about crows that every before–thanks to a small bird named Bird who ended up on our friends’ deck on the day we happened to be dropping off some Mount Vinson toques on our way to a canoe meeting…how’s that for synchronicity?

Then a few days later, as we were headed up Signal Hill to celebrate the Third Anniversary of climbing Kilimanjaro with the WOkies, a young cat adopted us as its caregivers for the night. I’m thinking that the cow might just be next–anyone know of any farms for sale?

Marian and I are off to a week of whitewater canoe school in Ontario. I look forward to a physical week of going with the river’s flow. I’ve just wrapped up a term of intensive teaching and when we get back from there, I’ll be on a three week countdown to Mont Blanc.

Thanks to all who ordered their Mount Vinson toques-there are still plenty more to go around so let me know if you’d like to add one or six to your collection.

One the videos we enjoyed…

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