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.