Crows have always held my interest for as long as I can remember. Oh, I know they are mischief-makers at times, and do eat young birds in their nests when they find them, and some hunters dislike them and their cousins the Blue Jays, for warning game of their presence. But I always felt they did me more good than harm during my commercial farming years. Be that as it may, I recently received a letter from a long-time reader-friend about a crow he found that needed attention. In a side note, he requested I not use his name or address, if his letter was used in a column.
Years ago when we found a bird or animal in distress we took care of it. Today the only folks that can legally have a wild animal in their possession are licensed "rehabilitators."
Also,under current law, one cannot be in possession of any wild bird's nest, even though in most cases the nest will never be used again by its builder. As a youngster I collected birds nests after the nesting season had closed for the year. The first public lecture I gave (and received money for), was a display of my nest collection and told about the birds that had built them. I also showed and discussed the collection at the Cheshire Fair here in Swanzey in 1939. Some years ago, after the law was changed, I destroyed the collection. I did not wish be a lawbreaker.
Now for our reader's letter. It read: "I was in Groveton the first of June and saw a baby crow in the road so I stopped and picked it up. It was unable to fly, had very few feathers, and it was going to rain. (It did rain and continued for the next three days.) The baby could never have made it on its own, so I took it home. My aunt, who has been gone for 20 years, had a recipe for baby bird food. My daughter made some up for the crow. It took a day or two until the crow got on to it, but when it did, it loved it.
"I'm sure you have heard a young crow being fed by its mother and this youngster sounded just like that. My daughter named it Hazel, as we believe it is a female as its beak is quite short and it is quite small. By the end of June she was eating eggs, hamburg, and I would go to the garden and dig worms, etc. She would stay on a roost in the shed that I made for her and would sail off the roost in the morning, then call for food. Her wing feathers seemed to grow faster than her tail. She would fly a short way, but when she landed she would kind of fall over forward. Once her tail feathers got long enough she used them to slow down enough to stay upright. Into July she was flying real good and began to roost in a maple tree near the side of the house. The limbs come about 4 feet from the window. If you opened the window she would jump on your hand and come in, or she would fly out of the tree onto the barn roof. When she hollered for food my daughter would open her window and Hazel would fly right to her. In August Hazel was doing her 'thing' and stayed around the house. When she wanted something to eat she would let you know. When we came home and didn't see her, all we had to do was call her, and she would fly right to us. She was a great bird to hide things. If she received more food than she wanted she would put it in some grass and put leaves over it, or hide it in my daughter's flower pots. In August she was hearing other crows around the house. There is a tree-line north of the house between two fields and there was always three or four crows over there. Hazel would get quite uneasy in the afternoons when she was getting ready to roost, and she started roosting with the other crows but would be back at the house in the early morning, calling, cawing for food. She would stay around all day. In September she spent all her time with the other crows. She now had all her adult feathers. They are new and shiny, and she really looks good. She hasn't been to the house now for a couple of weeks. We hear the crows and walk out into the field, holler to her, and she will fly down and land on my arm, and I feed her hamburg. Early this morning (Sept. 29) I walked down and called Hazel down. She came and landed on my head. I did not see her on September 30.
"We have had a great time with her, lots of fun. She liked to untie my shoes or try to hide stuff in my shoes. She makes a ratcheting sound like a fast clicking noise. I have heard wild crows do it but not often. I hope she stays around this winter. We sure will miss her if she leaves."
What a great story! I doubt if Hazel will alight on a stranger's head or arm. Crows are smart! That's why I like them so much. I can only add I wish it had happened to me.
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I am no longer able to write letters. Columns are written three weeks in advance and contain answers to questions. For a timely reply, please enclose a phone number. Phone numbers or addresses will NOT BE RELEASED without your permission!
Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey, 03446.