Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Never Eat Crow - A Critter Tale

I think I've had one of every animal pictured here. Maybe two of the polar bears.

I am a collector of all things furry, feathered, flying, creeping, purring, and barking. Taming my urges to acquire all of God's creatures has been hard-earned.

Grizzly used to bring home every stray anything, hand it to me to save, and then gripe endlessly about its existence in our home. Like the time at work he pulled four tiny kittens out of a pipe that was about to be flooded. The progenitor was nowhere to be seen. Naturally, I became the mama to the tottering, eyes barely opening, mewling felines.

"We'll find homes for them," he announced to me, two-year-old Wild Man, and six-year-old Bo. Yeah. That'll work.

Let's see.....we'll all be mamas since there isn't one. And that means we'll hover over them every minute, feed them nearly on the hour, feel them snuggle in the crooks of our necks for warmth while sucking on our ear lobes, and when they're hail and hearty a month from now, off they'll go.

That might have been feasible if he'd brought home hyenas. Not so much with four purring fluff balls.

Names had to be given of course. We were consumed with Beatrix Potter at the time so two of them became "Tom Kitten," and "Jemima Puddle Cat." The others just "Tucker" and "Bess" because we liked the names. Two tabby striped boys, two all white girls.

In our family almost all names get morphed. We can't help it. It might even be a syndrome they haven't named yet. The kids have vacillated between despising us for it and gleefully participating. Recently, they have begun to show signs of irreversible infection.

For instance, "Tom" became "Tommy." No big deal. Then "Tombo Combo" because one of our local hole-in-the-wall hamburger joints had a menu item by that name. (Former owner was named Tom. You don't need to know this so of course I'm telling you anyway.) Then Tommy developed an intestinal problem which rendered him sulphuric and socially unacceptable. Consequently, we dubbed him "Tombo Combo Dropped a Little Bomb-bo." And on and on it went.

"Jemima Puddle Cat" became "Jemima" which became "Mime-urs" but is spelled "Mimers." Which looks like it should be pronounced Mimm-ers. Nothing makes much sense. I just call her "Stewy." Yes, there's an explanation for that, too, but it can wait.

Bess and Tucker, strangely enough, managed to hang on to their original monikers most of the time. JoJo, however, who entered the fray at roughly the same time, developed approximately 35 names. I'm telling you, it's a strange condition and we probably need medication.

But this story wasn't about cats or dogs, believe it or not, or our odd naming affliction. This story was supposed to be about birds. I have no idea what happened.

I meant to tell you about the day Grizzly brought me a baby crow.

He was the biggest, most helpless looking baby. And such a dark gray he was nearly black.

I had always wanted a crow. You rarely see babies because the parents are so intensely protective, the fledglings don't leave the nest until they are nearly grown. And you can teach crows to talk. Technically, you're not supposed to keep them as pets. But if one flies right into your arms, what are you supposed to do? I know what I did, having rehabilitated more than my share of wild critters. I checked the Internet for what to feed him and how best to get him to eat. I even made a mock crow head out of plastic tweezers and a glove and poked food down his throat. He thrived. He grew. He made strange noises.

Every day I gave him flying lessons by holding onto his feet and making him flap. He loved it. He was the UGLIEST thing I have nearly ever seen. And he STANK. Our is it stunk? He smelled bad. But he was ours. I hoped to set him free and find that he wanted to live around our yard. I envisioned him calling out words to us much as a previous rescue, "Hope," the mocking bird, learned to imitate the toads and would croak from the tree tops. I envisioned him swooping in for visits. What I didn't envision was his transformation into a pigeon.

I looked at him one day and wondered why he wasn't black anymore. He was getting lighter and his beak was looking decidedly freakish for a crow. Stripes started forming down his wings. I don't know when it dawned on me but I do remember staring at him one day and saying, "That's no crow." It was Bo who piped up and said, "He looks like a pigeon."

"A PIGEON?" I exclaimed, protesting. Surely, in all of God's green earth I wasn't raising a pigeon and thinking it was a crow.

"Yeah, Mommy. That's a pigeon! Isn't he beautiful?"

"Well, maybe, for a pigeon," I replied, "but he's a pretty ugly crow."

It dawned on me I'd been feeding him the wrong diet. He couldn't have cared less. He was huge.

Since there was nothing to be done but finish his ground school pilot's work, I kept up the lessons. My goal was to teach him to fly......AWAY. One pigeon turns into a herd of pigeons, or a grove, or a quorum. Something.

Fully feathered out and completely ready to launch, he was actually beautiful. We had grown quite attached to him and dubbed him "Twig." He knew his name and began to make lovely sounds when he landed. He was making regular tours around the backyard now and we expected to find that he had gone for good nearly any day, off in search of a flock of his own. But instead, he seemed quite content to stay with us and perch on any surface where he could land. And the closer to the back door the better. If we left it open he would walk right in.

In case you were ever in doubt about this, pigeons poop. A LOT. Soon our ladder, patio table, garden fence, etc. were being christened in lovely white splashes reminiscent of grotesque modern art paintings and equally as welcome. We attempted to shoo him out past our yard. He was undeterred. He belonged to us even though we had at least 300 other pigeons he could have joined at anytime, living a mere 1/4 mile away in an old, abandoned winery tower. Life was good with us. And so we felt his relocation might need a boost. Perhaps he should live somewhere farther away where he could still have human contact.

The perfect place dawned on us. A huge park fifteen miles north with lakes and trees and, best of all, people who came regularly to feed ducks, geese, and pigeons. He would be in his element. He would find a wife. He would go on to create a family tree. With more twigs on it.

With sadness, but a sense of anticipation, we dropped Twig into a cardboard box and closed the lid lightly. We had to stop at the bank on the way and, not wanting to leave him in a hot car, took him into the bank with us. The Wild Man, being six-years-old and not yet known for his judgment, began to worry that Twig couldn't breathe well. So he opened the box. In the bank. Twig popped up his head to decide which teller should receive his deposit. He spread his wings for flight just at the moment we all noticed him. We forced him to make an emergency landing and returned him to the terminal. Disaster averted. On to the park.

As we approached a little lake surrounded by trees we decided this was our spot. We stroked his soft feathers one last time. We assured him birds were thriving all around him. We told him about his romantic possibilities. But the kids cried anyway. They worried he wouldn't know what to do. They were sure he'd starve.

We set him down on the ground. He made no attempt to fly away and merely walked around dejectedly. Bo burst into tears. And then, all at once, he flew to the top of the highest tree and simply sat there, looking lost. This wasn't the comforting parting I had planned. I wiped faces and noses and said the reassuring things mommies say. There was no happy way out of this but I tried to reassure them Twig would adjust.

I headed toward home with a heavy heart. Would he adjust? Had I condemned him to starvation, deprivation, annihilation? I tried to put it out of my mind, distract the kids, and get our errands done.

By the time we got home I sat said children at the schoolroom desk and set their work out before them. The day was beautiful and I threw open the windows and doors. It seemed a little quiet in the backyard not hearing Twig's fluttering coos as he flew about and my heart accused me with a tight pang. I hoped the kids weren't feeling the same way but I figured they were. We had grown so used to his sounds.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar whoosh and coo. I stopped in my tracks and snapped my head toward the back door. Of course, there could be no way it was Twig. I hoped the kids hadn't heard it. Girzzly had already threatened to relocate Twig to Pismo Beach, 150 miles away, and I had laughed him off quite sure 15 miles was enough. But maybe Twig had spread the word before he left and now another pigeon was discovering the gravy train. I rushed to the back door. So did the kids. Yep, they'd heard it.

"Is that Twig?!" they shouted.

I looked to the patio table. And sure enough, sitting there plump, pretty, and pleased with himself was Twig. "Made it!," he seemed to say. "Where's my ladder? I really gotta go."

The kids were elated, naturally. This meant Twig simply had to live with us because in his God-given bird brain, this was home, and he'd proven he could find it from anywhere. The place he knew and the place he loved. There had to be another answer. We would discover it. But in the meantime, what could we do but say, "Welcome home, Twig! You're amazing! How in the heck did you DO that?" and, oh yeah, "Dad's gonna kill us!"

To Be Continued....

Copyright 2009


  1. Oh my...I think I may have to post about all of our crazy critters. We even had a skunk once. Seriously, it lived in the house and everything. Her name was Katy

  2. Dear Robynn,... I have learned to not drink my coffee at the same time i read your posts.... spew effect, ya know! I actually now push the mug farther away, can't even have it near me because I know I'm going to laugh. You are one "heck" of a great writer! Waiting for chapter 2!

  3. I love this story! Looks like ya got a pigeon for a pet!

  4. Love it! We are unable to turn away anything with fur, hair or feathers. Our PWD stray, now famous as the dog of choice in the White House, has morphed from Fiona to Fi-Fi, Fo-Fo, Flea-ona, Fotina, Fleabona and Fofotina. Sad, really.

  5. Robynn..
    I can't wait to find out more about what happens with Twig.. I nearly wet my britches in your discovery that Twig wasn't a crow. We too share in your naming affliction.. we have 5 dogs and every one of them have gone through the odd name morph.
    Thanks for the laughter this morning .. and btw I couldn't get through my bird post for today without thinking of you and your wedding comment yesterday. I was a howling.. As we say in the south.. Gurl you ain't rite! lol

  6. Okay first of all I need glasses... the white lettering is tricky at times and I thought "crow" was cow! But then I saw you were talking birds and then when the crow was actually a pigeon? Oh my cow!

    You are a master story spinner to be sure! Could you be any more hilarious? Cannot wait for the next part!!

  7. I adore this post!!! Terrific story! And told by the master! Never got close to a bird, however. Dogs, yes. But both my WW2 era parents hated birds...My father because his father kept pigeons in the attic, and it was Dad's job to clean the can imagine. Mom hated birds because her job was to take care of the chickens...I tell that story in my Auld Lang Syne post, just in case you are interested...Birds make terrific "posts." :-) Did the zombie chicken inspire you??? LOL! Have a happy Wednesday! Cheers! Janine XO

  8. You are too funny! I can't believe it got loose in a bank. I worked in a bank for a while, ya know. I would have screamed bloody murder, and all h-e-double-hockey-sticks would have broken loose.

  9. I am just here to scream: LOL! Yes, this is your genre, and talent...and we, your illustrious followers, are the beneficiaries...thank you for your most entertaining receipt of the Zombie Chicken Award! You are most welcome!

  10. okay, I'm cracking up over here. "I really gotta go, where's my ladder?" hee hee :)

  11. Brilliant story! Twig must be a homing pigeon then? Or a homing crow?

    This is such a hilariously funny post ... I*m snorting like a horse on coke over here!

  12. I'm still laughing and the comments made it even better! What a great story! Can't wait to hear the rest of it.

  13. Hi my fellow Zombie Chicken Award new buddy! Love this post and can't wait for part 2. I am honoured to sign up as a follower, Robynn, I love your style and humour. With your love of animals you would have been great on Noah's Ark looking after them all. Fancy the pigeon liking crow's food! Obviously didn't know what pidgeon food should be. With this enhanced diet did he turn into a Jumbo Pidgeon, a sort of Goliath in the pidgeon world? His poos might have been less offensive with pidgeon food! His antics remind me of my little budgie, Mickey. I have written two posts about him which might amuse you. I shall spend many hours on your blog - oh why did I not find it before! Janine! why did you not tell me about Robynn? It's all her fault! I loved your speech on S&S othe blog and I made one as well. I will be back soon my friend. Eddie x

  14. Ohhh pigeon poop! He came back. Hmmm, am wondering if the modern art work still presents itself.
    Love the box opening in the bank!
    (and hugs back to ya!)

  15. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the story! I've rehabbed birds, too, and seeing them leave our 'nest' was heart wrenching each time.

  16. I chuckled all the way through part one of your story! Looking forward to part two! When I got to the part where you started talking relocation, my first thought was: "not gonna work--homing pigeon!" LOL

  17. Greetings Robynn! I'm still laughing about the crow/pigeon thing. You crack me up. We (or maybe it's just me) are bad about adding on to names in this family too. My Delaney is often called Laney, Laneybug, LaneyLou, DelaneyDoo, Boobah, or Woo. Actually, as of late, I find myself calling her Moose or Moose-ie! (Long story on the Moose name!!! Maybe I'll blog it.) She's sure to have an identity crisis by the time she reaches school-age! Paisley is often referred to as Puddleduck or Peaches. Destiny is lovingly called Pickle-head or DessyDoo. Who knows what we are thinking when we come up with such names?! Anywho, just thought I'd share my weird names with you. Thanks so much for the tip for my MRI. I am terribly afraid of closed in places. I will surely need something to relax me for my MRI! So glad you mentioned asking for something beforehand! You are my new HERO!!!!!!

  18. Oh I love this story! And you are hilarious... you gave a a pigeon a flying lesson? And fed the poor thing wrong diet! Oh!

  19. Thank you Robynn. I am deeply honoured. Now we are a 'sextet' watch out bloggy world! Eddie x

  20. A baby creature was brought to me to rehab once and I determined it was a flying squirrel. It was, but Fish and Game didn't believe me because they said we lived at too low an elevation. The game warden had to come see it with his own eyes. I once raised a river otter - talk about trouble in a furry body! YIKES! Good luck with that pigeon - you're its forever home.

  21. Do you like squab? Just kidding, I always thought it would be neat to have a homing pigeon! Lucky you!

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  23. Great post always manage to put a smile on all us who read!
    I finally got a pic of me in the pen pal feed bag apron..posted it today!

  24. Dear Robynn,

    Like Cedar I've learned to drink ANYTHING when I read your posts ... eagerly awaiting the 'to be continued' ... oh, BTW In my next life ... I want to return as one of your pets!!! :>)

  25. Hi friend! I know that I have heard the pigeon story before, but do not quite remember him starting off as a crow!! What a crack-up :O)
    You have a God-given gift with words and I SOoo enjoy your stories. ~Love you~

  26. I used to thing I wanted a yard & house full of furry things, but then I had 3 little children, and for now one dog plus the 3 kids is plenty to clean up after and keep healthy!! Thanks for the suggestion on contacting Tide!

  27. So now I see you have mistaken the zombie chicken for zombie crow-like pigeon. :)

    Some great moments in this story. "Tombo Combo Dropped a Little Bomb-bo" had me chuckling and the surprise-its-not-a-crow moment was classic.

    Looking forward to part 2. Thank you for all of your make me laugh, and that is always a good thing.

  28. What a great story, I waiting in great anticipation for chapter 2. I think we all afflicted with the morphing pet name sickness, actually that goes for people too!

  29. I love you so much! You are soooo funny and you ALWAYS make me laugh. Just wanted you to know how glad I am that the blogging world brought us together.

    Thanks for all the great info and history of your entry Hemi for my Flip Camera Name my dog contest. I loved it!

    Love and Prayers,


  30. I was smart enough to put the coffee down before reading this, this morning. Good thing too!
    The whole name morphing thing has been going on in this household for years... I still call my sweet little baby boy, Porky Pig / Porky /Piggy / Pork butt /Bacon/ Bacon butt/ Iggy/Icky or Iks.
    And I think that's why I think the cats never respond to me. They don't know their bloody NAMES!

  31. I tagged you. Please go to my blog!