Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And then there was Lester

There has always been a healthy Crow population in our community. The area has approximately 100 homes & is mostly agricultural. During summer harvesting the fields are littered with mouse bits that keep everyone fed.
"Lester" arrived on our property sometime in the spring of 2005.
In all probability he’d been here dozens of times with his parents & siblings as a normal, healthy juvenile.
For weeks, the only real difference between resident crows was the incessant squawking to be fed of the young ones. That is until we noticed Lester.
There he was, all alone, about 20 feet up in a Pine tree, so fluffed up we initially thought he was a young Raven. It was a couple of days before he finally flew down to the outskirts of the ground feeder. From the tell-tale red color at the corners of his mouth we could tell he was still young & while all the other juveniles had adults feeding them, no one was feeding Lester.
Poor thing, what a pitiful sight he was. His left eye was gone & his entire beak looked like an accordion. It was obvious that disaster had struck leaving him not only disfigured & an orphan but some what of an outcast as well.

I have no idea how he became so injured. Best guess is that he & his parent were probably hit by (or they flew in to it) a train. We lived very close to the railway. How he ever survived with such an injury is beyond me.
He was part of a group of about 5o+ crows that I fed each day in my driveway. Talk about noisy! My neighbors definatly were'nt too happy with me!
I never knew if Lester was a male or female, very hard to tell with crows, especially at a distance.
He got his name because of his uncanny resemblance to my Uncle Lester. They both shared the same shape of schnozz, pushed in & downwards. He was a sorry sight for sure.
Lester tried in the beginning to get food from other adult crows but none fed him. I put out lots of feed to satisfy any type of birds so he eventually got the hang of it & fed himself.
Lester was a real loner compared to all the other young crows & stayed pretty much to himself...just on the fringes of the group. Sometimes he would be right in the thick of things but not often.
Every evening when the crows left to head for their common roost (I'll have to find that one day...it must have hundreds of bird each night, Lester would remain behind.
He would hop his way, branch by branch to the highest tree top & watch as they all flew north with out him. Poor Lester. With only one eye I think flying wasn't an easy task so he rarley more than a few feet at a time. Obviously this meant he was the first to the feeder each morning & got the best scraps. I purposly put out special treats just for Lester. I don't know where he slept at night but it was close. He stayed around the entire summer & my husband & I became quite fond of the little fellow.
Every day, early in the afternoon, all the crows would head across the highway & up in to the mountains where they would soar high in the sky. Lester never went with them, he would just sit in a tree & wait for them to return. One day he did leave with them & even managed to come back with them for the final feeding that night. Later when they all left for their roost he stayed behind as usual. The following day he again went with the group to the mountains but when they returned Lester wasn't with them & he never came back.

I got hooked on crows while working at a slaughter house close to my home.
Hundreds of crows would swoop down to the "pit" where the remains of the slaughtered animals were stored. It was amazing to see all of them fighting for scraps. With over 73 Bald Eagles, a dozen or so Turkey Vultures & numerous other meat eaters it was quite the scene!A little eerie too.
My boss & I would spend our breaks mesmerized at their airial antics. One would drop a stick or a cone & another would catch it. They would dive bomb each other & how they averted a collision at times still baffles me.

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