Last Sunday, me and Mihai went biking into the countryside near Gunnesbo. Mihai wanted to find a nice, big rape field to photograph.
After biking around for a while trying to find one, we came to a pond in the fields near Gunnesbo, where many birds were hanging around. There was a swan patrolling the waters, as well. On the other side of the pond, the female swan apparently was sitting in her nest, and the male was protecting her. Mihai took some paparazzi pictures of the swan, who was very cross that someone had dared come near his pond …
When we continued on the path from the pond, we came across a young rook, who seemed unable to fly. When we approached it, it hopped away into a sheep fence, and got its claw tangled into the wire of the fence. Mihai picked up the bird and got it loose again, and we tried to see if there was anything wrong with it.
The rook was breathing heavily (from the stress), and sounded as if it had a snotty nose. We suspected that it might have fallen out of its nest. No rook parents were attacking us, so we also suspected that they had abandoned this bird-child.
Well, since we didn’t want it to die or anything, we decided to take it home and see if we could help it. To make it easier to bike with a bird, Mihai wrapped the rook into his shirt and carefully put the bundle in his open backpack.
At home, we unpacked the little rook, whom we had now named Rudolfo.
Rudolfo, who was breathing normally again, with no snotty sound, took a dump in Mihai’s shirt, and then started to explore his surroundings a bit. We put a bowl of water in front of him, but he didn’t want to drink. Instead, he walked a bit uneasily over the floor (too slippery for bird’s feet), until he had settled down under my desk. He stayed there, while I went searching for information on the internet about what to do with findling rooks.
I didn't find much about rooks, but after changing 'rook' into 'crow', I came across Kevin McGowan’s baby crow FAQ at Cornell University
And it turned out that we were real rookies when it came to young rooks (and other birds) … According to McGowan,
“When a young crow leaves the nest it will be somewhere around 80 to 100% adult body weight, have legs that will never grow any further, and wings that are nearly full size. This is a large bird, to be sure, up to 300 to 450 g in weight. But they still cannot fly! I have had a number of fledgling crows picked up off the ground because the people thought they were injured.”
And on the ASCAR home page
, I also found out that all birds are lactose intolerant, so our plans to feed Rudolfo cheese were not really a good idea. ("Oh, so *that’s* why all those sparrows died in my care", Mihai mused as I shared this fact with him.)
So, we decided to bring young Rudolfo back to where we found him. When we were going to pick him up, we realised that he was sleeping under my desk. After Mihai had gently woken him up by stroking his beak and talking to him, Rudolfo seemed very trusting towards us. He climbed on Mihai’s hand, and just stood there calmly. We wanted to give him something to eat, but he didn’t quite like our vegetarian cooking (corvidae are omnivorous, but prefer meat products). After tasting a piece of pasta, he wiped his beak on Mihai’s arm and fleece jacket, as if he wanted to get rid of the taste. I also tried an adzuki bean, but he spit it out into Mihai’s arm hair.
Well, after marvelling a bit about his trust towards us, and starting to be afraid that he might have imprinted on us, and would be far too trusting to all humans from now on, we packed him into the backpack again, and took the bikes back to Gunnesbo.
We let him go on the same spot where we had found him. We hope that he has found his way and met his parents again, and will grow up to be a fine rook with a just as nicely bald face as his older relatives.
I doubt that we could have given him the care and attention he truly needed, anyway.
(Rudolfo just took a dump on my finger.)