My first crow

I hesitate to use the word “my” when it comes to animals. Though many people think dominion means we own or can do what we want with animals, it actually means stewardship, or caring for the creatures of the earth and allowing them to live out their lives. I had a very personal and life affirming experience with this particular crow.

Did you know that animals feel despair? According to Dena Jones, writer for Orion magazine, “Mohandas Gandhi said that a nation’s moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals. Animal behavior scientists have proven unequivocally that animals are not machines but sentient beings that experience feelings of pain, fear, anxiety, and despair.”

I wonder if they ever feel hope.

I realize now that the raven I saw steal a mourning dove’s egg from a nest in my apartment complex was more than likely a crow. Crows, industrious and intelligent, have learned to adjust to the human paving of our greenbelts. They are our thinking janitors, cleaning up our roadkill and making use of the food we waste and throw away. And now, there are more of them than ever, because we have made it more difficult for their natural predators to survive, like certain species of falcons. Not unlike pigeons.

Crows have a rounded tail, whereas a raven has a wedge-shaped tail. The raven call is more of a Brooonnnnkkkkk and the crow is the Caw-Caw-Caw we usually hear.

There wasn’t anything fantastic about this particular rescue. On May 26, 2006, I got in my car and started driving toward the market to get some greens for my own birds (I care for four cockatiels). As I made a left out my apartment building parking lot and started driving along Evelyn toward Fair Oaks I saw a man picking up what I thought was a raven from the middle of the road, but it turned out to be a large crow. I actually grin when I think about it because my former manager at my last company told me ravens were more prolific in the area, but its actually crows.

The crow had been hit by a car. I stopped in the middle of the road, got out of my car, and asked the man if the bird was still alive. He said yes, and I asked him what he was going to do with it. He said…”nothing, I didn’t hit it.” Hmmm. At this point my mission became clear that I need to take the bird to the wildlife rescue. Point is, I didn’t know where it was. I knew my friend Candy volunteered there and it was in Palo Alto, but I hadn’t figured out where it was.

I don’t know when the man who picked up the bird finally left, because I was so focused on the bird. After attempting to borrow a towel from a stranger in a nearby parking lot, I settled on removing my hooded sweatshirt and wrapping the bird in it. If you know me at all you’ll know I’m an extremely modest person. Though I had a tank top on underneath it felt very strange to not be wearing long sleeves.

The bird was laying on its back, legs and talons pulled in, and in shock. I thought it was dead but then it rolled over and cawed at me a little. I talked to it, and then I started to cry. I know, I know…from what I’ve read the best thing I can do is be quiet and remain calm but I was so afraid for the bird and didn’t want it to die.

I picked up the bird in my sweatshirt and took it to my car. As I got in I left my driver’s side door open so I could place the bird with both hands on my passenger seat. Someone honked at me because my door was obstructing the road. Insult to injury.

As I drove up to Palo Alto I cried and laid my hand on the sweatshirt, telling the crow I would do what I could for it. What happened to me next was anyone’s guess, but I just sort of let go. I was still crying, but I realized at that point that I was doing what I could but that the bird might not make it. All I could think of is that I might have given it some hope.

I took the bird to Palo Alto animal services and they had an officer take it over to the Wildlife Rescue. When I called the next day Liz, the Animal Care Coordinator (great person, very smart) told me they were able to stabilize the bird, but that it wasn’t able to stand. However, when I called back a few days later, they told me that they had to euthanize the bird, that its injuries were too great.

They say when one door closes, another opens. Now I’m volunteering with my friend Candy on Thursday nights at the wildlife rescue in Palo Alto.

To read more about Wildlife Rescue in Palo Alto, visit:

3 thoughts on “My first crow

  1. I came upon your blog in a convoluted series of searches and am glad I accidentally landed here. I recently wrote a post about “my” first crow, as well — a pivotal crow in terms of forming me and my future aspirations. I’ve had a chance to read a number of your posts and enjoy the confluence of the pragmatic and the poetic. Lovely blog, thanks.

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