Have you ever wondered about the intelligence of those big black birds that sometimes make a nuisance of themselves? We got to be up close and personal with one many years ago.
In 1979 my family moved across the state to live in a farm house in the middle of a cherry orchard. What fun it was to romp around the countryside with my dog! On one of our family hikes, we discovered a baby crow that had not yet feathered out. My dad gathered him up and we took him home with us which began, what turned out to be, a great adventure!
We named our baby crow Simbo and made a cage for him that we located in my sisters and my bedroom. Fortunate for us, birds sleep when it is dark since we had to feed him every couple of hours during daylight hours. We chose to feed him canned dogfood and we dug that out of the can with a popsicle stick then poked it into his mouth. He could gobble down quite a lot of that and oh what a raucous noise he could make when he was hungry!
Simbo quickly became a lovable pet, and because of his food needs, we took him with us when we traveled. We had a very small car and he would happily ride along on the back of the rear seat. When it was time to feed him we would stop the car at a rest area, take him out, set him on the roof of the car and commense to feeding him. We got many an interested stair and not a few visitors during these feeding times.
As Simbo grew and feathered out we wondered just how to teach him to fly. It didn’t seem to be anything he was interested in doing but we his human friends, felt that being a bird, he should know how to fly for his own protection. Many times we took him outside and held him up and dropped him. He just fluttered to the ground and refused even to spread his wings. We put him on the top of the clothesline pole but he absolutely refused to fly.
During this time we moved to another town not far away and of course took Simbo with us. The trees at this new home were oak trees instead of the cherry trees we had been enjoying. These oaks were big and beautiful and we put Simbo up in one of them to encourage his flight. Soon some king birds came along and dived toward him to chase him away. This was just what he needed for inspiration! That was the day that Simbo learned to fly! From then on he flew everywhere he went.
According to what I have read online, crows are a very intelligent bird. They have even tested them to see if they are as smart as a 7 year old child. We found out our Simbo had a sense of humor. Our new home was under construction and my dad was digging a ditch for water pipes. Simbo would fly to the edge of the ditch, right near where my dad was digging, and sit there watching him use the pick and then shovel dirt out of the hole. Then, Simbo would pick up a piece of dirt and deliberately drop it back into the hole. He loved to play this game!
Now that Simbo was grown up he lived mostly outside. In the morning though, he would sit on the edge of our house right above my parents bedroom window and talk and talk. We found that crows have their own language and they speak with many different sounds. He seemed to be there specifically to awaken them so that they would open the door and let him in to eat breakfast. Of course his loud noises did just that and my dad would come to the door and let him in.
When we would go for a walk we would get just a little ways from home and here would come Simbo flying after us. He would land on our shoulder or sometimes on the top of our head. We didn’t much like him landing on our heads, that was a little painful as he grasped for footing and pulled our hair. If we visited the neighbors he would fly along and sit in a tree in their yard and wait or on their fence. He was a great companion.
The first time we actually went to the neighboring town and left him at home he didn’t understand what we were doing leaving without him. He flew to the windshield of the car while we got in and looked in to see that we were all in the car. Then, as we drove down the road he flew after us for all of two miles before he apparently decided to go back home and wait for us. There he was sitting in a tree waiting to greet us when we arrived back home.
My dad was working as a carpenter during the time that we had Simbo. Every morning dad would come out of the house with a cap and many mornings his carpenters pencil tucked behind his ear and into his cap. He would walk down the long driveway to his car since the ditches were not yet filled in. Simbo would fly to his shoulder and talk quietly and lovingly in his ear while rubbing his beak in my dad’s hair. Soon, however, he would snatch the carpenters pencil out from behind dad’s ear and fly back up the driveway with it. He would fly to the top of a tree and try to lodge the pencil in the crook of a branch but it would never stay there and would always come falling down to the ground. Dad would have to walk all the way back to the house and collect his pencil before heading to work. Though annoying, this little trick always made us laugh.
Simbo was a great pet and though his life ended far too soon, we enjoyed the time we spent getting to know him. Now, though I’m told that a group of crows is called a murder, I am always drawn to them as they come to try collecting from our fields after harvest. I’m thankful for a different perspective than I may have otherwise had if I’d not had the chance to be friends with one of their kind.