Thursday, 3 February 2011


The crow was standing on the grass, its bluish-black feathers glossy in the sunshine. I noticed it because it didn’t fly away as we approached. A bold one, I thought, as the dog-of-small-brain edged closer, nose down, tail quivering. There is great sport in scaring birds, he finds. Every walk is an opportunity to beat his personal best on the pheasant-frightening front.

The crow turned, and made a few rather wobbly hops. Oh no, I thought, it can’t fly. It must be hurt. And sure enough, it flapped and fluttered, but could manage nothing more than a few feet into the air. The poor thing, I thought, I must rescue it.

I’ll catch it and wrap it in my scarf, I decided, picturing myself striding back down the hill with it nestled under my arm, dog trotting obediently at my side. I could feed it bird-seed, and it would hop around the garden going ‘caw-caw’ every time it saw me. It wouldn’t take any nonsense from the cat, and it would try to peck the dog. And in time it would flutter up onto my shoulder to impress the children. I’d be a bit like Nanny McPhee, only without the stick and handy magic powers. I stepped onto the grass.

It’s only right I should point out I don’t have a good track record in rescuing wild creatures. The bat died. The cat ate the pigeon. And when I took the jackdaw to the wildlife sanctuary, the owner threw her hands up in the air and asked just what the hell did I expect her to do with that? And it’s as if the crow knew. As I walked towards it, it flapped off down the field with this panic-stricken look in its eyes which seemed to say ‘stay away from me, you crazy fiend, I’ve heard all about you.’

I stood there for about five minutes trying to decide what to do. In the end, I left it fluttering. I supposed it would be able to hop around and find food. And maybe it was just winded; there was a crow/buzzard altercation going on over a neighbouring field. I wished it well, and carried on my walk. But it’s due to become very wet and windy tonight, so I hope it will be okay. Besides, I think I would make a very good Nanny McPhee. I might even work out how to control my children!


  1. I just adore this. So funny and vivid!

  2. I think you'd make a wonderful Nanny McPhee, Sam. It's all in the intention. I love your descriptive writing and your words allow me to walk in your shoes with the 'dog-of-small-brain'. Crows, or ravens (corvus coronoides) are very unsociable birds and rarely make eye contact so I wondered where you tale was going at first, hoping you might charm it into friendship.
    Your story reminded me of an afflicted raven that used to hang around the shopping centre where I shopped. I worried about it, wondering what I might do and how to do it. When I didn't see it for awhile I'd grieve for the action I hadn't taken and then, there it would be again, hopping about on twisted feet, the crossed nib of its beak closing at a strange juxtaposition, and yet it survived.
    I hope to share your walks again.

  3. your post made me smile, i hope the crow is okay,

  4. The poor old thing! I hope it is okay, the weather has been quite wild overnight.

    Merlene's comment reminded me that I once 'rescued' a pheasant chick, took it to a local gamekeeper, who proceeded to tell me off for meddling... Apparently its mother would have been nearby, so I had effectively killed it by picking it up. I don't have a good record!


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