A Troubling Experience
It is especially difficult to write about experiences that adversely affect a companion
close to your heart. With each word I find myself reliving the event, as I begin to describe an assault that almost
took Spirit's life.
The incident happened in June, 1991, during the heavy darkness of a new moon. Spirit was in his
outdoor living quarters which had the appearance of a chicken coup. It was approximately fourteen feet long, by
seven feet wide, by five feet high. The walls and roof of a section of the pen were covered with boards, giving
protection from storms. I kept two basins of water and a food dish in this area. As well, this section contained a
converted dog house for extra protection. The floor of the dog house was covered with layers of sawdust and straw.
The remainder of the living area was enclosed with chicken wire, as was the door itself. On the ground were
numerous pine cones and sticks. Also, a section of the ground was covered in straw, and there was a small spruce
tree in a corner of the pen.
The attacker may have been a curious raccoon, a stray dog, or a porcupine, all of which would have
been attracted to the odds and ends of old dry meat lying about the place. I am certain the animal was at least the
size of a raccoon since a wide section of wire was indented and pushed forward. This would have taken a great deal
of pressure, certainly much more than a weasel, or some smaller animal could have applied.
Spirit must have been terrified by the experience. When I found him the following morning, my mouth
fell, I couldn't believe the scene. He was hanging in a perilous position with his feet and
a wing tangled in the wire. He may have been in that position for hours. In his
fear and desperate effort to escape the intruder, he must have taken flight and hit the chicken wire, which
formed part of the siding of his living space. I hadn’t heard any commotion during the night, dispite the
fact that Spirit's living quarters was almost adjacent to my cabin. There are several explanations for why I
didn't hear anything. First, I was likely asleep during the attack. Second, the wind was blowing, which might
have smothered sounds. Third, crows are normally quiet during the night. It is conceivable that a single crow
would not caw loudly in the night, even if attacked.
I worked quickly to free him from the wire, examining his feet and wings as much as I could under
the circumstances. He was very quiet, probably suffering from mild shock and exhaustion. His wing looked fine, but
I suspected his leg was broken, as it was quite weak, and dangled limply. I was devastated! I felt a sad, desperate
anger and frustration, because I hadn't discovered his plight earlier. Yet, there was a positive side to the
incident, in that for the first time I realized how deeply I appreciated having Spirit in my life. Seeing him in
this predicament made me realize how precious his life was to me. I realized how quickly events could turn - how
quickly he could die. I decided that I must double my efforts to enjoy each moment of his company, and to learn
about his crow nature – there was no time to waste.
Often, it takes a trumatic experience to make one fully realize how wonderful and how transitory
life is. Oh, I always appreciated the special being Spirit was, but hadn't fully realized the extent to which his
life touched mine. It is very difficult to explain this caring, this appreciation. It is easy to explain to people
that you are caring for an injured or disabled bird, which is unable to fend for itself, but much more difficult to
describe the emotional and psychic rapport that develops over time between human and crow, or any other creature
for that matter. Perhaps it is because so many of us underestimate the sentience and
intelligence of animals, but when one is open to what a creature such as a crow can teach us, the potential
relationship deepens immeasurably.