This piece first appeared on Goodreads.com, April 30, 2013.
It’s illegal these days to raise a Crow, even if you find one with a broken wing. These days you have to call someone to take it away. or let it die, according to the federal laws protecting migratory birds. But this was the 70s and life was far less regulated. Also, there was nobody to call. The choices then were nurse it back to health yourself, or let it die.
When we found the baby crow, with the broken wing, Dad called the closest zoo. Armed with a list of instructions, my sisters and I dove into our rolls as angels of mercy for a scared little crow. That summer I was about 9 and my sisters were 11 and 6.
I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad set the wing and taped it tight to his body, because I don’t remember how that was accomplished. Then we got to force feed the little guy soaked, mushy Dog Chow. We had to hold him tight, pry his beak open, shove the food to the back of his throat and rub his neck to get it to go down. Luckily, crows are really smart, and he figured out that resistance was futile and he better just eat the food. Within a couple of weeks he was putting all of the dog’s food in the dog’s water dish and eating as much as he wanted.
Dad came up with the name Saidrick Rackadew. I’m not sure where that name came from, but I still really like it. So, off I went tromping through the forests with my best friend, Saidrick, on my shoulder and poop on my back. After a while you just get used to having poop on your back every day. My prissy older sister had a low tolerance for the poop, and my little sister’s shoulder was too small, so I usually had Saidrick on my shoulder. I still think a little poop on your back is a small price to pay for the joy of having a friendly crow on your shoulder.
Above us in the trees his parents followed our every move and called to him day after day.
We made an attempt to teach Saidrick to be a Crow. We took him out and stirred up the grasshoppers in the fields for him to chase and devour with glee.
When the bandages came off, we had to exercise the wing. This meant sitting the bird on the end of a broom handle and raising it up and down, which made him flap his wings. Eventually, he gave into the urging of his parents and took off, flying up to join them in the trees. At that point it was their turn to teach him to be a crow. Once Saidrick was in the trees, he never came down to us again. That was a little hard because it came without warning. One day he was sitting on my shoulder, and the next day he was gone.
Saidrick and his parents stayed close by, until it was time to migrate south. I’m pretty sure he came back the following summer and called to us from the trees. The summer after that we had to move away and I never heard his voice again.
So why do I write about ravens in the “Domino Park Comics” instead of crows? Because, where I live now we have lots of ravens and no crows, so I watch ravens every day. I appreciate their existence and pay more attention to them than most people, because a long time ago when I was a tomboy I had a pet crow named Saidrick.