Friday, May 31, 2024

Some metaphors write themselves

We have had a crow saga happening at our house.

Early last week there was a big wind storm in our area, and we think it knocked a crow's nest from one of the trees out front. Not sure. All I know is I was the only person home one afternoon, and I discovered a crow sitting on our front steps. I was concerned it was hurt or injured. It didn't look quite right. 

Turned out it was just young. Young enough that its eyes were still rather blue, and its tail and wings were mostly pin feathers.

I left a message with the local humane society. I put out a dish of water on the steps. I called a neighbor across the street who loves animals to see if she could keep an eye on it while I was at work for a bit, and she promised to help keep it safe.

I got a call back the next day from the humane society. We talked about how the wind storm had displaced many small animals. We talked about West Nile Virus, and I told them how last summer we brought a crow in that wasn't doing well near my store. My middle daughter is good with birds and scooped that crow up in a sheet and held it as we drove to the animal rescue. She said it was startling how little it weighed. That bird died of West Nile.

They told me as long as the parents overhead were making a racket, to just give the young crow some space. If the parents stopped caring, then we should bring it in.

The bird managed to hop to the side of the house, along our fence, and eventually up the back steps where it settled in near the gate. I discovered it there when I parked my car after work, and I went around the other side and propped the gate open. I figured it might be safer in our yard than in the alley.

The baby crow eventually hopped onto our deck. The parents made an angry fuss every time we leaned too close to our windows to watch it. We put out water and nuts. We watched it hop to different spots on the deck. I told the same neighbor where it was and asked if she could maybe peek inside the fence once in a while since we were leaving the next morning for our cottage in Michigan. She said of course.

But the next morning we found it dead just under the deck. There were signs of a scuffle in the overgrown grass. There were black feathers scattered about near the stairs. I told the neighbor there was no longer anything to check. The parents were no longer shouting at us when we stepped into the yard.

While walking the dog before hitting the road, I discovered a second young crow dead in the front garden. It was mostly hidden by weeds. I don't know how long it was there, but by the time we returned after our Memorial Day weekend trip, the bodies of both young crows were gone. Nature can be cruel, but efficient.

Then a couple of days ago, there was a third baby crow on the front porch. This one was simply sitting on a maple log next to our swing. We think maybe having spent the night under the porch light might have helped keep it safe.

It eventually hopped slowly down the front steps, along the side yard, and ended up by the gate just like the first crow. We propped the gate and let it in. It hung out on the chairs on the deck. It explored the table. It practiced taking small "flights" from the seat of a chair to the back of it. For a little while it looked like it was trying to fly up the garage wall and perch on the paintings of plants there. 

At one point late in the day, it made a valiant attempt to fly from the back of a chair to the deck railing about three feet away. It sort of made it, but then overshot the railing enough to land in the side garden below. It hopped about, then climbed the stairs and settled into one of the chairs again.

My oldest daughter decided to put all the backyard lights on, and sleep on the couch in the family room to keep an eye on the small crow. We didn't want anything bad to happen to this last baby.

Yesterday evening I watched it fly all the way from the deck railing across the yard about 15 feet to the fence. Before we went to bed we couldn't find it anymore, although the parents still made a lot of noise if we opened the back door.

This morning, the crows were noisy. As I walked the dog, I finally spotted the baby crow at the top of a mangled looking apple tree we have next to our fence. It was looking as wobbly and goofy as it had practicing how to move on our deck, but now it was in a tree. A second pair of crows appeared, and cawed up a storm along with the first pair seeming to encourage me and my dog to move along. 

We haven't seen any of the crows since, which I think is a good sign. I think that baby made it.

Three little birds leaving the nest. High stakes.

My three little birds are home for the summer and they are fine, but I feel sometimes like I'm hovering around them like the crow parents (although I hope less loudly). The crow parents were observant, but they never actually swooped all the way down to their babies. They watched. They made their presence known. They cared. I care.

My first high school friend to have a baby asked my dad once when the nightmares about something happening to the baby finally stop, and he said, "They don't."

I'm excited for my kids as they head into the world. I see the one at college addressing challenges and I'm proud of her. I see the one taking a different path taking steps forward and back and I know she will figure things out. The youngest is looking at colleges but with no particular major in mind. It will be fascinating to see where she ends up.

I love them all more than my heart can take sometimes. They all have wobbly and goofy moments.

And with luck our nest won't blow down and they can always find a home here. 

Watching those little crows in our yard and seeing their anxious parents circling above was hard. But that last baby making it to the top of the apple tree, and I'm assuming finally flying off into the world, has left me with great hope. For birds both near and far.