I am hearing young crows outside my window today, and that has brought back these memories.
Daughter would have been 9 or 10 years old at the time. She spent much of her time out with her chickens in the coop and run. She tamed the resident ground squirrels with chicken feed, found camaraderie with a friendly falcon that seemed content just to roost on a nearby fence post, and generally loved being outside. We had two dogs in a cross-fenced section of the yard between the chicken coop and the house, and she had learned what they were capable of if a hen should manage to get into that section of the yard.
Well, one of those outdoor days, she found a young crow at the bottom of a tree. It had its adult feathers, but could not yet fly, and its feet or legs seemed to be injured from the fall. She picked it up and it clung desperately to her shirt. Just a scared little baby bird.
I was never terribly fond of crows, and when she managed to get my attention from across the yard, my first inclination was to tell her to put it back where she found it. But I quickly realized that I couldn't demand such a heartless act of my soft-hearted little girl, and so I reluctantly became her partner in helping to save the little crow's life.
Once we realized that putting it in with the chickens would never do (!), we put it into a cage in the garage. For a day or two he hardly made a sound. Once he figured out we were the source of food, he set up quite the racket every time one of us opened the door. And he continued to holler even as we were putting the food into his mouth, then made choking sounds as he swallowed (much to our angst!). We soon learned that this is typical of young crows, and we now smile every time we hear that calling-then-choking sound coming from nearby trees.
Male or female? We had no idea, so we just called it a "him" and named him "Blackie." Daughter took on most of the responsibility for his care. As he got older and stronger, she was glad to climb up a tree in the front yard with him and set him on a branch. He soon learned to love the feel of the wind in his wings, got a better sense of balance, and eventually, he began to fly short distances, much to my daughter's delight.
I should mention that the resident crows displayed quite an interest in this little bird. I hadn't realized that crows have their own community, and they seemed to be keeping tabs on this young member of the group.
As he got better at flying, he got harder to catch to bring him back in. We began to find him on the top of the roof, where even my daughter couldn't get to him. We worried about getting him back in to safety at night, going to great lengths to keep him enclosed.
Of course, the day came when we could not get him down from the roof before we had to leave for some important event. ... And when we came back, we could not find him, nor would he come to our calls.
That was a bittersweet time. He still came near at times, but would never let us catch him. My daughter had been a successful surrogate mother to this young crow, as proved by his being able to leave and rejoin the crow community where he belonged. Now she had to learn to let him go.
Through all of this, we both gained a further appreciation for the cycle of life. Yes, crows do snatch young birds (and chicks) from nests at times to feed their own young. And yes, they can be problematic for people on many counts. But, they too are living creatures who grow from helpless young to strong adult members of their own society. They also have their place in nature and help reduce other pests of various kinds in their own way. Oh yes, they are also extremely intelligent.
I can never look at or hear crows now without smiling at the memories of one little crow who worked his way into our hearts and taught us a lot about a community we didn't even know existed in our own neighborhood.