An early phone call, especially on a Monday morning at 8 o’clock, never brings good news. At least not in my life. The number did not look familiar and with caution, I answered. A male voice came right to the point: he said “there is a raven in distress in the parking lot of Sault College… I saw him yesterday at noon and he is still there…”
Not again! Shot through my mind, remembering last year’s rescue of Biscuit the raven and the sad disappearance of him and the whole flock. It would go against my nature not to do something if a living being is in need and I wouldn’t turn my back on him, so my mind sprang into action and at least give some advice. I really did not want to get involved again (but how could I not?). I said to the person “take a blanket, approach the bird carefully, cover him, and pick him up… A long pause and I could feel the hesitation on the other end, so I volunteered to meet him at the place as soon as I put my shoes on.
(At this point, all people who believe not to interfere with mother nature and leave wildlife be, should stop reading).
The kind gentleman stood outside his house with a blanket and a box and pointed to a spot where something fluttered on the ground. I thought the box was unnecessary yet, and feeling his hesitation, I took the blanket and approached the little guy. It was a baby raven on its back, flailing one wing furiously and squawking. It looked as if he was doing a backstroke (not funny).
It was a pitiful sight, the bird was wet and full of his own waste. How long was he there? Since yesterday, noon. I placed carefully the blanket over him, which stopped the heartbreaking squawking, and maybe he was in shock. Stroking and speaking to him softly calmed him down. Now he was in my arm and my responsibility.
As gutsy as I am sometimes, I have no clue how to treat an animal who is possibly hurt. But who is an expert with knowledge and a heart of gold? LISE. Who had rescued many animals, even helped last year with my raven and countless others. Calling her, and she responded immediately, “first things first, the beak was open, and we fed carefully water and scraps of meat into it while Lise very gently examined his feet, wings, and scrawny body for breakage or injury. She looked at me and said “there is nothing broken..” and still, when we unwrapped him and let him stand, he fell to his side, like a drunken sailor (again, not funny).
We decided to feed him as much as he took, and put him in a cage covered with a blanket, and let him rest. He spent 24 hours in my porch without a sound, and by Tuesday morning, he demanded food, alert and bright-eyed. He tried to move but still seemed to fall over to one side, beside the cage was too small for any movement, that any damage could be detected.
Lise offered a bigger cage at her place with plenty of food and water, and his appetite was healthy. He seemed to get stronger from day to day, and his falling less frequent, and by day 4, he wanted out of his cage, and Lise with her brilliant feeling for what is good for a creature, said “I want to find his mother”.
For a moment, my jaw dropped. “Ravens mourn”, and she informed me about all kinds of things about ravens. “They communicate, they have 28 different sounds”, and it confirmed what I learned from a wise indigenous woman, that eagles and ravens are sacred in their mythology and that they can feel or sense bad vibes and they carry our soul back to the creator… I was speechless (it gave me goosebumps).
Back to the raven: how can we find the raven’s mother? Lise scouted the place where I found him and noticed many activities of ravens, one house in particular with large pine trees in the neighborhood seemed to be where the nest could have been, and by talking to the owner of the house, Lise found out that there were about three other fledglings in her yard, which a mother was feeding.
A lightbulb went on. Lise and Jennifer (the kind homeowner) came to the agreement, since her yard was fenced in, to let little raven join. Progress reports flew back and forth between all “godparents” daily. Yes, he was eating, hopping around, with the other young ones. His “drunkenness” became less frequent, and Jennifer and family even named him!
Meet Russell the Crow (even though he is a raven). Lise delivered food faithfully and was recognized by Russell where the others were more timid. Exactly one week later as Lise delivered some morsels, he hopped and ventured up some steps off the deck and to the next, where he could overlook the situation and FLEW! All recorded on Lise’s cellphone. He made a few circles and looked very strong and confident.
When Lise showed me his first flight, we hugged and had tears in our eyes. SUCCESS!! But what was the problem of his almost-death? Lise and I came to the conclusion: he must’ve been the last one to hatch. There were obviously three more babies and he was the last to feed. He was, in other words, starving.
The lesson to be learned? Yes, mother nature is looking after things and one should not interfere, but she can sometimes also be cruel, and giving her a helping hand can be a helpful and rewarding experience. This is for all people who consider ravens obnoxious: they are intelligent birds, but people should know that ravens can be in need of help and rescue just like any other animals or humans.
Good luck, Russell!