Foster Mother

by lostemir

I foster baby birds. Crows are cool pets but in my state a federal offence if caught with one. I learned a lot about birds through trial and error.


Foster mother of birds
It never fails, every time spring rolls around, I become a foster parent. I foster baby birds. I guess you can say I have always been a bird magnet. Besides chickens, the first bird I have ever had was a pigeon; I was eight. I found him with a hurt wing, on the sidewalk, in New Jersey not far from my house. I didn't want anything else to happen to it so, I took him home and nursed him back to health.

My sister and I took care of two baby black birds which we found in a barn. They make cool pets. The worst part about taking care of baby birds besides the possible death, is food preparation. Most baby birds are feed by regurgitation. Knowing this,  I had to prepare the food in a suitable way for them and it was disgusting. I had to find worms and other types of insects then mush them up to make it fit in an eye dropper. When the feeding took place it didn't always reach the designated area so, sometimes I was left covered with stinky dead bug guts. Yuck!  The black birds were pretty good eaters because they had big mouths and you did not have to force the food into them. They would see me comeing and right away they would start squawking with their mouths gapeing open as far as they could get them. In fact, I couldn't get the food to them fast enough.

I learned a lot about birds through trial and error and from others who knew a little about them too. I made a terrible mistake with one black bird, Sam. I decided to take him to school for show and tell. I put him in a styrofoam box, he picked at it and ate the pieces. I lerned that day, styrofoam kills when ingested. I cried my little eyes out, for I had to burry my little friend. I thought about the funny things Sam used to do. I used to give him sliced pickels. He would take the pickle and start rubbing it all over his sleek body like it was a wash rag. Till this day, I still don't know why he did the pickle ritual.

After I had that experience, I vowed that I would own a crow before I died; those beautiful creatures that are pests to so many farmers fascinated me. I heard all kinds of stories from people about them being neat pets. I was also told that they loved shiny things. They steal and hide them, anything from rings to soda can tabs. In the thirteen years that I spent in the country, I did not get the privilege of having a crow.

When I left my home in East Tennesee and moved to New Jersey, my bird magnetism did not stop. It was the year 1994, I recieved one of the things in life I said I wanted, a crow. I was at my friend's son's birthday party and everyone was gathered in her yard playing, eating and just having a great time. I was playing with the kids and I heard my name being called, "Cheryl, Cheryl, come over here, I want to show you something!"  I walked over and my friend Ritch was pionting to the electrical wires. There, sitting on a wire, was a handsome crow. He was fanning his wings with his mouth wide open. I studied it for a moment, then decided to try and coax it down by calling to it, bringing it some water (which I put in a big shiny pan), and breaking up some bread. To my surprise, he flew down. Immediately he went for the bread then jumped onto the pan to take a drink. I slowly started getting closer to him and he ate from my hand. I moved even closer and put my arm below his feet; I couldn't believe it, he stepped right onto my arm!  I walked around the yard with him perched on top of my arm. I finally decided to stick him in a box to take him home. He kept on getting out until the third time. I figured, as the saying goes, "If it comes back, it's yours to keep."  Since it came back to me not only once but three times, he was mine to keep. I named him Soul.

I had soul for only three short weeks. You may never think that a crow would make a good pet, but they do. Soul was so friendly and playful. I gave him a home in my bathroom. I had no problem feeding him; he ate anything. I fed him a lot of different things but mostly hamburger meat. When I fed him out in the living room and he became full, he would continue taking the food and hide it in the creases of my legs as I sat indian style. The reason I said that bird would eat anything is because I would find weird things that he had regurgitated such as a tiny bolt with a nut screwed onto it, rubber bands and other tiny, mostly shiny things. Whenever entering the bathroom he would always fly on my head. When I played with him, I would get tiolet tissue and he would play tug of war with me then roll over on his back and wrestle with me like a cat.

I lived upstairs in a four family duplex with a small balcony. I would take him out every day to stretch his wings from roof top to roof top. Sometimes it took a little longer to get him to come back to the house when other crows were around. One day I let him out and he followed another girl home. I had to go there to get him and he followed me back to my house.

As I said my relationship with soul lasted for three short weeks. He was found on a Sunday and left on a Sunday. The second week he was with me, I had left the bathroom door open and a window open in the kitchen and he got out early one morning when every body in the house was asleep. I was heart broken. I walked around town looking for him. I bet the nieghbors thought I was crazy because I would walk around looking up at the roof tops and trees yelling, "Soul, Where are you, Soul?" He was gone for four days, then this guy came to my house and told me he thought he had found my bird. He gave me a ride to where he thought he was. It was him! He was in a ladies yard bugging her, but he wouldn't ear for her. I took him back home. The end of the third week, he got out again, this time through the bathroom window. I forgot to close it after I was done cleaning that night. That was the last time I ever saw Soul.

I know it was a good thing that soul became free, because the world is his home and he should be out in the wild stretching his wings as far as he can. I also found out that having a crow in New Jersey is a federal offense which could cost you up to if not more than $1,000 in fines. I feel that soul was a gift and I am thankful for the time and experiance that I had. I will always have this special memory that I hold close to my heart.

Updated: 06/13/2011, lostemir
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lostemir on 06/13/2011

It was a wonderful experience for me and I too would have never thought I could "wrestle" with a bird. Iv'e had a few other wild animals in my life, a baby skunk and an opossum are two that were interesting to care for. Besides writing, my heart lies with wildlife rehabilitation.
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chefkeem on 06/13/2011

What a heart-warming story, Cheryl. I would have never thought that you could play "wrestle" with a bird. :)

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