Posted by: adventuressetravels | September 26, 2011

Raven Rescue, Crow Care

“There’s a bird over there.  He can’t fly,” the little boy blurted out looking pleadingly at me through locks of disheveled dark hair; he pointed down the side street.

Turning the corner I walked a few feet down the side street.  A small crow stood on the ground glaring at me with an expression challenging me just to try something.  Completely alert, he made no move to fly away as I approached.  I could see why:  as if someone had taken scissors and sheared off the ends, half his tail feathers were broken.   What had happened to this poor fellow?

Courage growing he left his two friends and walked across the street.  “He’s missing one of his legs…” the questioning note in his voice spoke volumes: he wanted me to do something.  The three boys had been standing guard over the injured bird.  Now they could pass the responsibility on to someone who would know what to do.

I may not have been from Seattle, but I had to at least check and see if there were anything I could do to help.  I called Darrell, an old friend living in Seattle… did he know anywhere in Seattle that helped injured wildlife?

He was sure there was somewhere.  He just wasn’t sure where it was.  Resigned, I walked the two blocks to Pepe, my couchsurfing host’s house.  Maybe he would know where to go

“I’m going to try and find help,” I told the boys.  “Can you guys wait here a few minutes?”

The oldest of the three said he could wait around a while but that the younger boys had to get home.

“Can you take him to a hospital?” the first boy called after me as I walked away.

I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I had to help the poor mangled bird.

“Do you know anywhere around here that helps injured wild animals?”  As soon as I walked into Pepe’s house I blurted it out.  Before hello, before thank you, before any formal greeting.  Time was of the essence.

Pepe and his roommate answered almost in unison.  PAWS could help.  PAWS was a local organization that helped rehabilitate sick, orphaned, and injured animals that also ran an animal shelter.

Now there was help, but that meant we had to get the bird off of the street and to the wildlife center.  Grabbing a cardboard box and a bath towel,* I set out to retrieve the crow.

Pepe had wanted to help, but his roommate advised against it.  Crows are smart and aggressive; they protect their own.  Especially this flock.  After they’d taken on the owls and eagles in the neighborhood a few times and won.  If the flock saw a person trying to harm crows they would remember the person and attack them every chance they got.  Since I didn’t live in the area it would be a lot better if I went alone.

The children were gone when I got there.  Quickening my pace, I prayed the crow was still in the same spot… much to my relief the jet-black figure still stood on the sidewalk.  From a distance it looked fine, but the closer I drew the creature’s injuries really became apparent.

Setting the box down I spread the towel wide, ready to throw it over the patient.  To my surprise he spread his wings and beating the air, made it almost a foot before falling to the ground.  Without hesitation I threw the towel over the bird.  It was good to see that the creature still had that much energy left.  He might have a fighting chance.

Gently scooping the bird up, I carefully placed the towel and bird in the box.  As I walked away from the crime scene there was a harsh “Caw!” Scenes from “The Birds” flashed through my head.  I was glad that Pepe hadn’t come along.

Setting the box down on the kitchen table I carefully disentangled the towel and gazed on the pathetic little figure inside.

He lay on his back listless looking half the size of the defiant bird I had first seen.  A grey dried cylinder that looked something like a dried cat dropping was stuck to him.  It took me a moment to realize that this was his leg.  His foot had been taken off at the elbow.

What had happened to this bird?  I didn’t seem like a car could have done something like that.  How could he have gotten away from an attacking animal in that poor of shape?

His tail was in tatters, but what really frightened me was the stillness.  He had been so energetic on the street and now he was almost torpid.  Had I gotten to him too late?  Were his injuries just too grave?  I took the towel out, closed the box, and called PAWS.

After I described the crow’s condition the woman on the line asked me to bring him in as soon as possible.

I scooped up the box and we hopped into Pepe’s Jetta.  Before we had driven more than a block the crow was already scrambling around in the box.  I breathed a sigh of relief… the bird had just been stunned or was in shock.

We drove the 20 miles to Lynwood from Seattle, me regretting having taken the towel out of the box nearly the whole way.  Walking out of the parking lot the companion animal building stood to our left and a trail leading into a lush garden on the right.  “This Way to the Wildlife Center,” read the sign, the arrow pointing down the path.

We gave the box to one of the two women working and she took our charge upstairs to the wild animal hospital.  I was concerned for the crow: his tail feathers would grow back but he was missing half his leg! How could he recover from that? PAWS was not a refuge and if the animal could not be rehabilitated and return to the wild then they would have to be euthanized.  As sad as that was, it was probably better that way: captivity was no life for a wild animal.  But the more I thought about it the more confident I became.  His wings were fine, and he had been standing on the sidewalk without problems.  The crow would be fine.  Still, we asked for the people at PAWS to call and give us the crow’s outcome.

PAWS is a wonderful asset for the community and to Washington wildlife.  Both a no-kill animal shelter and a wildlife rehabilitation center, since 1981 PAWS has worked to help over 260 species of animals.  The wildlife center is designed to rehabilitate sick, injured, or orphaned animals.

Volunteer positions are certainly open in at least the animal shelter and, like any non-profit organization, they can always accept donations.

*when handling wild, hurt, or scared animals it is always best to throw a towel over them.  This is for your safety and theirs. The dark helps calm them and the towel protects you both.  A cardboard box is good because it provides a dark refuge, but be sure to line it with the towel to give the animal purchase as well as a sort of nest.


  1. Well told. But about the raven, nevermore.

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