Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Monday, June 01, 2009

Crows Among The Standing People (#197)

Soggy out there this morning and overcast. Lots of rain yesterday and more on the way today. Couldn’t find my rubber boots (memo to self: clobber one of the boys) so I put on the hiking shoes I bought yesterday. The puddly, mucky path would soon show me if they were more weatherproof than their disappointing predecessors.

I am always struck by how impressive the cedars look when their bark is soaked. The saturated moisture enhances their already-considerable character. Each of the old trees is distinct from its neighbour in the tilt of its trunk and the arrangement of arched limbs, whorls and scars. And the differences seem more stark when the trees are wet. They truly are a marvel and being among them is humbling. They speak of endurance, patience and the wisdom of ages. I better understand why many First Nations people refer to trees as Standing People.

And of course, there’s the green. Post-rain green - the green of the ferns, grasses, flower stems and leaves - is the greenest of greens. All in all, a treat for the eyes this morning. Much different from the “usual” treat of a sunny, early summer day.

As we normally do, Benny and I followed the dirt path along the creek north of the dam. I paused at the three rocks to place a peanut on a nearby willow limb. Ben was a few yards ahead, as he often is. Nearby, crows cawed their approach. I answered in kind, declaring my own presence. Suddenly, their calling was very close and raucous with alarm. I looked ahead along the path just as Ben turned back to look at me. Between us, but much closer to Ben, was a fledgling crow hopping along the path.

It beats the heck out of me why Ben didn’t make a move to chase the bird. He chases every moving object smaller than a jumbo jet. Maybe he was distracted by the adult crows’ clamour. Maybe he sensed my panicky “No! Don’t” thoughts. In any event, he responded immediately to my beckon and call, ran past the young crow, within 12 inches in fact, and back to me.

I stood rooted in the path for a moment, torn with indecision. Should I try to intervene? The fledgling was hopping along uncertainly, with an occasional wobble. I could put the leash back on Ben, tether him to something and try to assist the crow. But how? By lifting it into a tree? Did it even need assistance? It appeared more bewildered than injured. Would the adults allow me to approach it?

There were three adult crows that I could see. The nearest was in a maple sapling only slightly above my eye level and 15 feet away. I looked at him and asked aloud, “What would you have me do?”

Can’t say he answered me but I felt the right thing to do was turn around and leave the way we came. During my half-minute of pondering - as Ben circled my legs, awaiting our next move - the cawing had lost its frantic edge but remained near-constant, a worried muttering.

“Okay, friend crow. We’re leaving. Good luck with the little one.”

I turned my back and called Ben to follow. Within three steps, the cawing behind us ceased.

I think we made the right call. (Or, as Hilary might write, caw-l.)

And the boots were fine.

###

Addendum: I wrote the above last Thursday but decided not to mail/post it right away. Friday morning, the fledgling and several adults were still there. This time, the youngster was in a small bush, only about three feet off the ground. Again, I paused to ponder whether I should intervene. The adults weren’t as frantic as they were the day before but their soft caws still evidenced concern. I usually travel out of town every weekend to stay at Hilary’s and was to leave in a couple of hours.

The adults were obviously minding the bird. Although I hadn’t witnessed it, I’m sure they were providing the youngster with food. The weather was mild. My main concern was its vulnerability to predators.

Once again, I decided to leave him be.

However, I spent a goodly portion of the weekend fretting and set out this morning, Monday, very anxious to not-see a certain bird.

I heard no cautionary caws as I neared the area and saw no adults. But it didn’t take me long to spot the fledgling - preening unconcernedly - about 30 feet above me in a maple tree. Obviously, over the weekend, the youngster had either brushed up on his tree-climbing skills or he had figured out how to work those wings a little.

Colour me relieved. He seems fine. I’m reasonably sure that the absence of mindful adults is proof that the crisis has passed.

But I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if there’s any news.

17 comments:

Hilary said...

I'm glad there was no serious caws for concern and hope you'll see the young one continue to thrive. When you do, no doubt you'll call out to it and gesture to it with your hand with what you refer to as "my crow wave." ;)

I'm glad all was fine. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

Well done, Frank. I know how it is to want to help and how difficult it is not to.
I'm glad the little fella is okay and sorted out his wings.

Eternally Free Spirit said...

Glad to hear the little fella is ok and what a neat story. :)

The Things We Carried said...

Crazy how little birds can grasp our attention and care...

the part about Hilary made me laugh. She does love a good word play.

Reb said...

I am very proud of Benny for ignoring the fledgling and for listening to your inside voice. You made wise decisions even though it is hard not to help the helpless.

Big Plain V said...

Dang-it, Frank, why is it that every time I come to your blog, I leave with the powerfully guilty notion that I'm not taking enough walks?

Frank Baron said...

Hil, what scares me, is I know you didn't have time to stay up all night thinking of those. Your punmanship is incrowdible. :)

Thanks Leah - I am too.

Thanks EFS. I hope the little guy stays out of trouble. :)

True on both counts, Meredith. :)

Reb, I'm proud of him too, even though I suspect it was a fluke. ;)

Ray, it pays to listen to that inner voice. It hardly ever fibs. Go on and take a nice, slow walk in a natural setting. You'll thank me.

Barbara Martin said...

It is tempting to help oustide critters though leaving them to their own devices is best. The only times I have intervened on wild things is when they end up in the house: once with a bat clutched to the upper folds of a living room curtain and a young starling. Both were set free outside to live where they belonged, and alive to tell their tales. With the bat I didn't think twice or even once that it might have rabies. I just moved it. What a delicate little body and wings they have.

Frank Baron said...

I've had a couple of close encounters with bats too, Barbara. They're remarkable creatures indeed.

Darn that Bela Lugosi anyway!

Dianne said...

Frank you have no idea what a hero I feel you are! To fret and to go back again with that 'I hope I don't see anything wrong' feeling is the definition of being one with nature

that and the magnificent description of trees

and good on Benny, he knows what's important

Frank Baron said...

Why Dianne, I'm blushing over here. Thanks for the day-maker. :)

bobbie said...

a beautiful post. I love the name - The Standing People. How perfect. The First Nation and our Native Americans really understood what it was all about, didn't they - Don't they?

Frank Baron said...

Yes they did, bobbie. And I reckon many still do. At least I hope so.

Thumbelina said...

Aw Frank - I love how you actually thought before you jumped in to help. My instinct to help sometimes overpowers reason and rational action. Well done!

Frank Baron said...

Aw shucks Thumbelina, t'weren't nuthin'.

(kicks the ground modestly)

;)

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