Along for the ride:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flight to Nowhere.

There was an injured crow down on the road, not far from my house, on Sunday. I parked my car and walked back to see if there was anything to be done. The family who live right there, were just maneuvering to get around and into their driveway without running over the hapless bird and there were anxious cawings from a pair of wheeling parent birds.
The resident triplet boys had scrambled out of their mini-van and were looking to their parents with a whole list of "How" "Why" and "What"s multiplied by three. My guess is that they are around five years old. I see (and hear) them often in the afternoon as they tear up and down the sidewalk on a variety of  foot and wheel-propelled contraptions, with their matching triplet friends from around the corner. It took me a while to realize that this was not an underground day-care center run amok just two families trading kids, alternating periods of havoc and recuperation.
The focus of our attention was an immature crow. He looked almost grown up and my guess is that he tried to fly and landed hard. The nest must be in one of the tall Redwood trees behind the houses. His untrained trajectory had left him bleeding and unable to use his legs. I was pretty sure he was not salvageable and, although one side of my brain was cataloging the possible tools I have that would help me hand feed an injured bird until he recovered, I didn't want to prolong his distress in any way. I decided to get him into more natural, sheltered surroundings and let Nature take its course so I picked him up, to a chorus of complaints from the watching birds, and I laid him beneath a bush in the raised garden near by, assuming his end was imminent.
After work yesterday, on my way back from a nice long walk with the dog, I crossed the street to see if the crow was dead and/or gone. The rustle in the bushes led me to him, alert to strangers but still dragging his legs. I was amazed at his tenacity. I thought he deserved a fighting chance.
It was after 6pm when I started by calling animal services. Recorded instructions for after hours referred me to the Sheriffs' office who gave me a number to call for my jurisdiction. The woman who answered the phone told me that if I could get there by 7 pm, I could take my charge to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. I had 45 minutes, which was not a sure thing by any means, to head South on one freeway, traverse San Jose from West to East and change freeways to loop around the bottom of San Francisco Bay and head out towards the less populated hills and parkland.
I grabbed a kitten sized cat carrier from the garage, padded the bottom with a clean towel and clambered onto my neighbors' garden wall to retrieve  the Simp (new knowledge acquired; this is the official appellation for a juvenile crow).
I watched the minutes ticking away on my dashboard clock as I rejoined commute traffic, headed into unfamiliar territory. The radio traffic reporter was announcing a new roll-over crash somewhere but the street names meant nothing to me as I evaluated whether the California Highway Patrol would be sympathetic to my use of the carpool lane in this life or death situation. Things were flowing along respectably, giving me confidence that I might make it in time, until the brake lights ahead suddenly rushed up at me. Multiple lanes of merging traffic almost at a standstill and suddenly the street name on the signs above the road were familiar because I'd heard them on the traffic report.
Ten precious minutes later we drew level with a car, all four wheels in the air. Two humans beside it, thankfully, upright and talking to a CHP officer who had sirened by on the shoulder a short while ago. Not their best day, I'm sure, but it could have been worse.
Speeds picked up again and I started paying attention to the directions I had been given, hoping they were accurate. Mentally checking off each landmark that was where it was expected to be, it was 6:56, and counting, as I dropped back down to the surface streets. A right at the light; red, of course, with others in front of me; a burst of open road and another light, preventing me from turning left. I considered some illegal moves and kept my fingers crossed we were getting close. A sign for the park that I was looking for but, as I turned into the parking lot I realized that the driveway to the Wildlife Center was just a bit further. A speedy U-turn and a prayer that I would not be faced with a "right turn only" order at the exit and I scooted into the dirt parking area next to a Humane Society vehicle.
The Wildlife Center office is housed in a mobile home type structure. I ran for the door, without even trying to take my passenger with me, hoping someone was still there. The Humane Society Officer was doing the paperwork to check in a Possum in a cardboard Pampers box and two Cormorants who were malnourished and parasite infested. She managed to exude a certain poise and glamor, despite the, on anyone else, unflattering brown uniform and pervasive perfume of many a past skunk. Bouncy, curly hair, lipstick and a South African accent. The unspoken possibility that this competent woman might have wrangled lions and come out on top.
Back to reality, I fetched the travel crate and handed it over to the young woman who worked there. I caught a glimpse of multiple towel-shrouded cages in the back room as she stepped through the door. They have hundreds of young animals in their care at this time of year; squirrels, birds, skunks, possums; all in need of nurture and repair. I took a card with my crow's identifying case number on it so that I could call to find out if he was going to survive or not. As I wound my way back home, I passed a monster traffic jam in the opposite direction. The topsy-turvey car had turned many commuters' evening plans to dust, with a back-up stretching for miles. I was happy to be going the other way.
Crow: record number 1063, 5/23 didn't have a chance at rehab. He was determined to have a spinal injury and was humanely euthanized. At least he didn't spend another night waiting to be eaten by predators or suffer a slow death by dehydration.
I gave it my best shot.


  1. Good job!!! You saved the little guy from what would have most definitely been a terrible way to go. I have always had a lot of respect for crows....

  2. Silliyak, Thank you. It's always worth trying. If you have time visit the Starfish story, up above my profile on the right.

    Jenny, I fully expected him to be dead and gone yesterday morning. I couldn't let him linger on.

  3. Hello:
    What an errand of mercy, and what a tale! We found this all quite upsetting for there is so little to be done in the circumstances. Whatever, you did the very best which, we feel, was the 'right' thing to do.

  4. I have a special spot in my heart for crows. They are indeed fighters. They don't give up easily. They do what it takes to survive.

    I am so glad you did what you could. The crow lovers (like myself) thank you. I am glad the poor thing is out of his misery. Fighting when there is suffering with no chance of survival is not what any creature on this planet deserves.

  5. Good on you for trying, it is the season of injured birds here too, falling from nests, separated from parents...nature isn't easy.

  6. You really did give it your best shot, sometimes it's not enough. Well done you for trying!

  7. As you say, it's always worth trying. A life is a life.

  8. Collie heaven, kitty heaven, French Artist heaven - now crow heaven. You'll have an abundance of options, ER.

    (Blogger won't let me be my usual self today. It's Deborah)

  9. Even though I was almost sure there was no chance of survival, I had begun to imagine my life with a pet crow. My business is in a large warehouse and he would have had room to fly around. Crows have so many human traits. They are fascinating, even more so now that I have held one and seen him up close.

  10. Thank you so much for trying. Your little rescue met a far kinder end than he would have if you had left him to fate.

    Amazing drive to get there. You are truly an angel of mercy to challenge the freeways. And isn't it always the case that the light turns red when you are in a hurry?....Same here in NJ. It's a conspiracy.

  11. The important thing is the trying. I can't see anything suffer or be in pain if I can help in any way possible.
    I like to think I'd have done the same as you did, ER.
    Nature took her course and luckily for the ado crow, Nature sent you to help.

    I hope the thoughts flying around and about you are beginning to settle down and you are finding that path diverging in the yellow wood which you seek.

    Bisouxxx, Kitty

  12. I am not sure that I would have done what you did. I found an injured crow in the garden - we have a lot of crow's nests - with parents near by and coming down to feed it occasionally. Eventually it disappeared; I'd like to think it made it.

    On another occasion I found one in the cattle grid, it had slipped in and hurt its neck. Luckily I had a couple of real countrymen calling that day to get rid of a wasp's nest for me. I asked them for help and one of them reached down, checked the bird over and, before I could say or do anything, he slapped the head and neck hard down once on the metal bar of the grid. The birds died instantly. Much better than faffing around with vets.

    Sometimes you just have to do the cruel to be kind thing. These peasants knew what they were about.

  13. It was merciful of you to have delivered the simp to a dignified end to his short life rather than leaving him to be gawked at as he expired on his own.

    It is not often that one has the opportunity to use that word--mercy--in its many forms.

    Merci for this one.

  14. Ms. Pliers, My innate optimism wouldn't let me give up on him without expert opinion.

    Friko, Unfortunately we have a population of computer nerds, not country men. I did wonder if I could put it out of it's misery myself but would have been horrified if I had attempted that and failed. Then, there were the three little boys watching too.

    Kitty, thanks for the support. Every little helps.

    Jean, Our freeways are not bad, although congested at rush hour. In my own area, I know shortcuts and detours. This trip was outside of my zone so I didn't dare try any tricks.

    Joanna, thanks.

  15. yes - you made the effort, which is what counts. We had a crow with a broken wing outside our offices for a few weeks and the staff kept feeding him until we managed to catch him and take him to an animal shelter

    We nicknamed the crow Colin, although i favoured Russell :)

  16. I forwarded this story to hubby. We would have done the same thing. How could you not?

    At least you cared and did what you could.

  17. Just had a similar run-in with an injured magpie funnily enough. Left me feeling all wistful.

    P.S. Finally worked out how to get round this Blogger lo-in thing!

  18. Pixie, I had begun to think of naming, although I knew it was premature. Inky was one idea. Did you find out what happened to Colin Crow?

    TechnoBabe, "How could you not?" is often my guiding principle in decision making.

    Steve, glad you could get back on board here. I empathize with your wistfulness.