A Bird in the Hand is Messy

I don’t like crows. I never have, and probably never will. I can spend hours watching eagles soar and glide on the thermals. I love blue herons, in flight or standing in solitude along the shoreline. Ravens are mysterious and interesting. Loons, well you get the point. There are many birds I like.

As a child two trumpeter swans passed so close over my head on their way to the neighbours’ slough, I could have reached out and touched them. I will never forget those magnificent birds as long as I live.

I would not go out of my way to harm a crow, but also don’t wake up wondering how I can pass forward kindness to crows.

I rode my bike to work a couple of weeks ago and as I passed a fenced compound, which was topped with a healthy lace border of razor wire, a conclave of crows (the correct term is murder – as in a murder of crows) gathered together cawing and creating quite a ruckus. One of their group had the misfortune to be caught by the wing, in the flanges of the razor wire.  He or she hung there; the weight of the body stretched the wing taut. It was a pitiful sight.

I rode on, being as how I don’t like crows. It was not my place to interfere with natural consequences. Besides, I rationalized, it was doubtful if I could even reach up there anyway. Then I thought that it was a poor way for that unfortunate crow to die.  Not that there are good ways to die, but hanging by one wing on razor wire would be a slow and painful way to pass from this life to the next, especially with all your friends and buddies around, frantic and unable to help you out of the situation or ease your pain. At best, if the crow struggled, and did not die, but managed to free itself, the wing might be damaged and then, being unable to fly would become easy prey.  I turned around.

When I got back to where the crow was suspended, I realized that the razor wire was at least nine feet off the ground. It was much higher than I could reach. But, at this point, I was committed to helping this unfortunate get free. 

I looked around for a solution. I could have tried to climb the fence – but that seemed foolish. I’d end up along side the crow trussed up in razor wire, suspended above the ground.  A pitiful sight.  I needed a ladder – or something to climb on.

I propped my bike against the fence, and gingerly climbed onto the top of the frame.  I balanced delicately like a rotund weather vane and prayed nothing changed the equilibrium of the precarious perch below me. Not knowing anything about razor wire, I boldly reached in. I have since learned that razor wire is particularly nasty stuff, and will cut right through gloves without so much as a “how d’ y’ do.”  I wasn’t afraid of being cut, the West Nile virus or anything else. I just reached in to free the bird.

At first the crow pecked at my hand. Then it seemed to realize that I was there to help, and deliberately looked the other way. I, myself, have used the same strategy when being treated in emergency. I grabbed the wing and freed it from where the delicate bones were caught on the razor wire. Once loose, the crow took flight and headed off with a cacophony of cawing as the group rejoiced at the rescue.  

Quite pleased with myself, I climbed down and rode off on my bike. One crow rode with me, directly overhead, cawing loudly for about a block. Just before flying off, it left a deposit which landed squarely on the very crossbar that I had balanced on moments before. I think it was saying thank you.

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