The Way of the Crow



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I tryed rationalizing the situation, to convince myself the best thing had happened; it was appropriate for Spirit to fly away and live the normal life of a crow, surviving as long as possible in a natural environment among those of his own kind. Yet, despite my positive thoughts, and rational approach to the situation, the deep empty feeling would not go away.

This internal dialogue was short lived, as I quickly collected wits, and began my rescue efforts. I had visions of Spirit sitting in a wooded area, falling prey to a raccoon, a cat, a fox, or some other bird or animal that might sneak up and devour him before he discovered its presence. At the time, I believed those terrible thoughts were realistic, because, after all, if a bird is pursued in a tightly treed area, it is difficult to elude predators, especially if that bird has trouble perching.

I must have been a comical sight charging over the field in pursuit of that crow! I stormed the clearing, carrying a cardboard box under my left arm, and franticly shouting, "Spirit!" as often as I could. I carried the box, as Spirit was used to riding in such contraptions, and I realized it would be easy to bring him home in it. You see, I often carried Spirit home after a flight to the woods since, left to his own discretion, he would remain there for hours on end. My schedule just didn't allow me to remain with him for such long periods of time. I certainly couldn't leave him there on his own, since his injuries prevented him from perching in the safety of trees. I felt that a crow on the ground was fair game for many kinds of prey. Therefore, I simply had to carry him home, and discovered that a cardboard box was best for this purpose, since he disliked being carried in my hands (He didn't like having hands wrapped around his body.). The box was especially good if I had to carry him any great distance. 

Entering the tree line, I paused, took a few steps, then paused again, looking and listening for crow sounds or clues to his whereabouts. There was a stillness, a silence, except for the chirping of small birds on birch trees nearby. Several light puffy clouds floated in the sky, and my eyes were attracted to streaks of sunlight scattered through the dark shade of conifer trees. I found myself imitating crow calls as I walked deeper into the forest, all the while gazing at the ground, or upward at the tall trees, searching for Spirit. I must have walked a quarter of a mile in this fashion, before pausing to consider my strategy.

Anyone who might have witnessed the "crowing" sounds I made that day, would have considered me borderline crazy! I still wonder if anyone heard me. I wonder about the neighbourhood gossip. I suspect, if there was another person in that forest, they would have made fast tracks out of there, rather than attempt to discover the source of such a racket. I know that if I had been in their shoes, I certainly would have done so!  


As I stood there, rethinking my strategy, I distinctly heard the sound of a crow to my rear. It was faint, but familiar, and had the echo of Spirit. I could often distinguish his vocals from that of other crows. In this instance, because the sound was faint, I couldn't be sure it was him, especially since other crows in the vicinity often frequented this forest.

Quickly retracing my steps towards the field, I noted the responses to my calls. I was convinced it was Spirit! The cawing sounded like him. My reasoning proved accurate, as I soon spotted him, sitting beneath a hemlock, furiously poking the ground with his beak. To my surprise, he was near the edge of the field, and must have circled back to the comfort of familiar surroundings. I had obviously underestimated Spirit's flying ability and navigation skills. My lack of confidence resulted from knowing he had little flying experience, compared to crows in general, having lived much of his life in a confined space. I was convinced that Spirit would easily become lost during free flight, having failed to consider the genetic inheritance, and fabulous sensory capabilities of a crow. Remaining in or relocating familiar surroundings was probably an easy accomplishment for Spirit.

When I attempted to pick him up and place him in the box, he quickly hopped away from me. He had read my mind and definitely wasn't having anything to do with my plans. So, I sat under a hemlock with my back to its trunk, and watched Spirit dig away at the ground. After twenty minutes or so of this activity, I was able to place him in the box, and carry him back home.

But one thing is unclear - was he under that hemlock when I began my search? Was he watching me as I made the mad dash over the field wildly calling his name? Perhaps the temptation to lead me into the forest was too strong to ignore. The trickster wanted some fun! I suppose this can be attributed to the legendary character of crows -- after all, this is their mythic past.

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