Janice Collins and her family enjoy animals. Many readers may have had an experience similar to hers if they have ever rescued a baby bird. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.
By Janice Collins
One day my oldest daughter found a baby crow on the Nuffer School playgrounds and brought it home. She named him Tommie, and her dad built him a cage so the kids could enjoy the experience of having a pet crow. We kept him outside on our patio where the kids fed him hotdogs and Twinkies, which turned out not to be a good idea.
As Tommie grew, he seemed to be developing problems with his legs. Since he was a pet, we took him to the veterinarian. The Vet said that Tommie was developing rickets, and shouldn’t be fed so many hot dogs. He also told us to let Tommie go – that it was against regulations to capture and keep wild animals
While Tommie was living in the cage, he would caw at me for food. When I gave him food, he would right away start cawing again. That made me wonder where all of his food was going and how he could eat so much so quickly. When I investigated, I could see food in the bottom of his cage. That’s when I knew that he was tucking the food under his wings instead of eating it all.
When I would sunbathe in the backyard, Tommie would fly down and sit on my back, sometimes trying to pick at a mole I had. Tommie was a clever bird, and we discovered that Tommy was good at untying shoelaces. Tommie was also notorious for hiding things under the roof shingles. He took the kids’ darts and poked them under the shingles as best he could. He also would take the neighbors’ items and fly back with them to our roof and try to hide them. I guess you could call him a thief.
Tommie followed Pam, Natalie, and Jeff to school and would land on their shoulders. He didn’t allow other children to touch him. Not only did he land on our shoulders, but also on the back of our English Mastiff for rides. He seemed to be teasing our dog at times because he would peck at the dog’s large pink tongue while the dog was panting. Lucky for Tommie that the dog was good-natured.
Letting Tommie go was hard for our family. After he was released, the other crows sensed our human scent on him and would pick on him, coming around in large groups, and gathering around him while they cawed.
Tommie hung around our fence and electrical lines for a long time. I guess he knew we would feed him if he cawed; so of course, we gave him dried bread pieces. He would fly down, pick up the pieces, and then fly back to the light poles to eat.
When we didn’t see Tommie for a while, we thought maybe that someone else caught him and clipped his wings. Then one day we saw him and knew Tommie had come back to his old surroundings. He flew down and sat on our shoulders again. Crows are very smart, and we had a good experience with Tommie.