Under One Woof

Humber Et Cetera's Pets and Animals Blog

MacBeth moves in: Keeping a Crow

on February 29, 2012

COURTESY: Henriette VanDyken. Me and MacBeth.

By Ruth VanDyken

You could keep your peaceful neighbourhood – or you could adopt a crow.  You could remain a law-abiding citizen – or you could adopt a crow.

It may sound unbelievable. We didn’t buy it either and had to find out for ourselves. By all rights, that darn bird ought to have with a fifteen-page waiver form at least.

It all started innocently enough.  I was just a kid – about ten – when my brothers carried home two little fluffers in their coats.  The wind had knocked a crows’ nest out of the tree leaving two dead and two almost dead. We plied them with bread and water and soon enough they began to revive.  Their first move was to leave large globular piles about their new home.  Then, slowly but surely, they gained strength and volume.  We were thrilled.  Mewling croaks turned to barked demands and we dared not disappoint.  Thus began a new life for the family, as round-the-clock feedings demanded one of us feed our mini-tyrants every four hours. We poured massive amounts of food down their gullets: canned dog food, corn and ham.  Worms were too uncouth for their tastes.

But soon enough, that stage was over as the birds turned their sights to loftier aspirations.  The larger brother caught on fairly quickly. With a few crash landings on any handy object – human or otherwise—he was soon flying.  The other must have been hurt from his initial fall out of the tree – he never learned to fly, and my dad gave him a quick and painless death.

We named the other MacBeth.  Yes, MacBeth –the black-hearted villain.  And after he began to fly, the avian MacBeth did his utmost to live up to his Shakespearean namesake.  MacBeth was a connoisseur of human emotion, from loud and colourful panic to teeth-grinding anger.  He began mildly enough, gently dive-bombing each of the family at any chance he could get.  There’d be a premonition, a swoosh of air, then two claws would catch a few strands of hair as a two-foot wide black shadow swooped over.  We quickly learned not to fear him and so he moved on to unsuspecting neighbours who had never heard “pet” and “crow” paired in one sentence.  Random screams punctuated the neighbourhood.

It was clearly time to up the ante.  He began to mock people.  The neighbourhood had two very prim ladies who faithfully power-walked the block.  MacBeth decided he would join as well, and took to marching behind the ladies.  With head held high, MacBeth’s high-stepping gait was a perfect –and ridiculous—parody of the ladies.   Indignant, they would chase him away.  And half a minute later, the goose-stepping fiend was back for all the neighbourhood to laugh at.  It was too much for the ladies, whose morning perambulation had turned into a comedy routine.  They soon disappeared altogether.

Enter MacBeth the thief.  He would steal and hoard anything shiny or colourful, and the Osborns had a deck-full of both.  He was constantly over at their house, making off with whatever knickknacks he could carry.  Thankfully Mrs. Osborn, a rabid garage-saler and knickknack collector, adored MacBeth’s handsome figure and hilarious antics.  She nurtured their relationship with chunks of cheese and shiny quarters.

But Mr. Osborn was of the opinion that the crow was on lease from Purgatory.  The battle-lines were clearly drawn.  Never a quiet relationship, the shouting from the Osborns’ house reached a fever pitch.  Beer bottles began to fly wherever MacBeth was.  With tasty morsels proffered from one and delicious hatred from the other, the bird couldn’t keep himself away.  We’d arrive home from a day away to hear from Mrs. O, “I’m so glad you’re home!  Mr. Osborn has been at that crow all day.”  There was talk of guns.

We loved that crow dearly.  He was our constant companion while fishing, tramping the fields or making mud pies.  To my mother, an avid gardener, he was so constant a talker that he made himself obnoxious.  But when he began to peck at screens, we knew it would soon be open season on every house in the neighbourhood.  Dad decided it was time to do something.  We brought him to a farm 20 miles away.  The last we heard was of a large crow mooching off the cottages nearby.

But sometimes, when I see a handsome crow giving me a bright beady stare I can almost hear MacBeth’s raucous “haw haw haw!”  And we laugh together.

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3 responses to “MacBeth moves in: Keeping a Crow

  1. Curt says:

    Ruth–there were no claws in hair when he flew over. But nicely done, slightly embellished… Actually the screen pecking coincided with one of his swoops over a dog-walking lady, who screamed, let the dog go, and ran for cover (no embellishment). It should be noted too, that many neighbours loved him and some thought he was their own pet (one lady affectionately named him Rocky, and gave him cookie pieces).

  2. Salem Alaton says:

    Story and photo are priceless.

  3. Adored this, Ruth. Very unique and entertaining. A fine read, indeed. 🙂

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