Last Monday I arrived to the work parking lot and a couple co-workers were flagging me down. I couldn't hear what they were saying as some Crows were steadily screaming away over the back corner.
As I park and meet the guys, they tell me of a baby Crow under a Pepsi truck near the adults. Wow, cool! I'd never seen a baby Crow before, or never took notice to one anyways.
What a cutie!
I shared the photo on social media and everyone was enamored by this young bird.
It was time to start our shift, so we left the little one with his parents and hoped for the best.
I'm used to seeing young birds and how they may seem in trouble, being on the ground or in odd places, but have learned over the years its best to leave them be especially when you know the parents are around. There are exceptions to the rule as some may have learned through my Peregrine Falcon fledge watch blogs. Or sometimes with other birds, if you are 150% certain they are in trouble. 150%?!?! Is that even possible? Yes, even when you think you are 100% certain the bird is in trouble, really think about what you are doing if you step in to help. They can't tell us what's wrong or if there is something wrong; and some people get stuck in a mindset the bird needs help and lose focus. So yes, really REALLY think about the situation. And for even more assurance, call a wildlife rehab centre for a second opinion. You have to remember that if you do step in, you will no doubt alter the life of that young bird possibly forever.
So as I worked away, I kept thinking about that little Crow as did the guys who saw him out there too. Not that I'm an expert, but using common sense and the facts above, I said we can just monitor it for the time being. One of the guys did go and check on it a few hours into our shift and it did move out from under the truck, get under the conifers nearby and I suspect was looking for a low branch to get up to.
I decided to call Toronto Wildlife and inquire about the bird's state, and see what they have to say. My concerns were for the bird being on the ground come night fall and the predators that may come across it. Believe it or not, we've got Coyotes, Raccoons, Opossums and even a Great Horned Owl has been seen in this industrial area.
With TWC one must leave a voice mail and they will call you back. I left the absolute most detailed message about this bird, how he appeared, what he was doing, etc and informed them with me being at work in a noisy plant that there was a good chance I would miss their call and to please provide me as detailed of a message back in the chance I didn't receive their return call.
Luckily I had a quiet moment near the office when they called me back. We spoke for a few minutes, all sounded well with the bird from my description and they suggested that come dusk to try and help him into a conifer, get him up on a branch and off the ground. We talked about his actions, and they said he should be jumpy and active when approached (not wanting to be near a big scary human), and if he didn't do much of anything, there's a chance he's in trouble. But with his parents around, it's best to try and get him up there closer to them.
I was in contact with another rehab person we know from Hobbitstee, keeping her in the loop as she was available after hours if need be. Plus being a live contact through this if any other questions popped up.
So, come break time, we check on him, he's still on the ground. It's nearing 8:30pm now, the sun is setting. We have to get back into work very soon. We decide it's time to help him back up into one of the trees as much as the parents are still present and screaming at us to get away from their kid. I offered to do it, not that I have all this experience or anything, but I just chimed in to do it and everyone knows my passion for the wildlife. My only match in the Pepsi plant that I know of is my bud Tim and he wasn't outside yet.
So, here I am picking up this wee little Crow, feeling good about what we've been doing, monitoring him the best we can while having to work.
His size, or rather lack of, and the no fight in him did concern me. But what more can we do at this time? We had to rush back to our jobs. It would be dark the next time we got outside.
We hoped the best for him as we left him on a branch about 7 ft up in a spruce tree. One of the adults was directly across the road from us watching what we were doing and still screaming away. He was a little wobbly but what baby bird isn't?
An update to our rehab friend and we made the decision that if he stays in the tree, we leave him be. If he comes down again by the time we leave work at 10pm, then we take him in.
It's quitting time. Woo hoo! We are all like Fred Flinstone in the intro to the Flinstones, racing out of the plant. Only a few of us were racing out to this certain Spruce tree while others were jumping in their cars.
It's real dark now, and we hoped just to catch a little glimpse of him on the branch and then we could leave happy. Another co-worker, Evan, spots a dark lump on the ground and quickly puts a light on it. We all wanted it to be a piece of garbage and not the bird but all our wishes, much like wishing for the Lotto Max win, came up empty. It was the young Crow... dead.
I picked up the bird and this time, with a clearer head to the situation since the concern for him was now gone, I gave him a bit of a physical inspection. Indeed one very small bird he was, but also quite emaciated. He was skin and bones. So who knows what happened to him? Maybe he was ill from the beginning? This was Monday night, for all we know, he may have fledged over the weekend, perhaps much earlier than he should have, and burned himself out trying to get home so to speak?
It was a crappy end to this adventure. We all felt some disappointment and a loss since we spent the last 8+ hours focused on this little black feathered creature.
The next day, we return to work, find the adults acting the same way as on Monday. I said "great, there's another kid bouncing around some where!" Only we could not find the bird. Break time comes, there's the sibling, much bigger than the first, and more active. He's trying to cross the road to get over where his parents are.
I decided to help him along, kinda influence him to keep moving as a few cars have already passed him. I'm sure the adult Crows were really pissed at me now, probably recognize me from the day before and what happened to their first fledge. My co-workers are watching me and I'm hoping one of them has their camera phone ready to catch an image if the adults attack me, protecting their offspring. I can always pretend this is like a scene from the first Resident Evil video game... damn those Crows! LoL! But no attack came, and the bird was safely escorted off the street. He went right for a low shrub and disappeared within. I was content with that. He's got shelter and can hop up in there to get some height for the morning.
The next day, back to work, seek the birds out and none to be seen or heard. Come dusk, same scenario, adults present, only they are quiet this time. I sit in my truck, enjoy my coffee and watch. Suddenly, from another hedge near the adults out comes the young Crow. The adults start their screaming again and I watch the bird move about the grounds, going under different trees and trying to make the jump to a branch. He then finds another shrub and tucks himself in for the night.
Now it's Thursday, I am arriving at work and once again, not a Crow to be seen. Come lunch, still no birds. I go for coffee and do a drive around the area, looking and listening. I find them on the other side of a warehouse about half a kilomoetre from our plant. The young bird is perched on a really low branch tonight with the adults over top. What more can one ask for?
Friday no birds any where that I looked.
All this week, no sign of a Crow of any type, adult or juvi, well until last night at break when the adults were present once again by our parking lot. They were screaming away. I looked and listened for a juvi, but had no luck. Now that doesn't mean he wasn't there, somewhere in the conifers (there's a long line of them) but I couldn't find it. Then some Chickadees and a Robin got all defensive like in the parking area too, around these trees. Now I'm like "holy *expletive* maybe there's an Owl in there?!?!?!" Break is over now, but I still tried for a quick search and came up with nothing.
Man, these birds drive me nuts some days!
I hope for sight and sound of a juvenile Crow in the coming days/weeks. I've learned their call which is quite different from the adults. Really it may be the only way for someone like me, not so experienced with these birds to tell. I know some don't like the Crows all that much, giving them a bad reputation for some of the things they do. But really, they are a beautiful bird, highly intelligent and one must respect a bird with such ferocity that will defend it's family and territory as they do.
It just goes to show you that with nature and wildlife, you don't need television or even a book. The stories are never ending if you tune in to them and you are pretty much guaranteed to never have a repeat episode.