Recently at Animal Tracks we observed the development of an unlikely but enchanting friendship between a fledgling crow and a young pigeon. Unfortunate circumstances had lead both wild birds being separately admitted to the centre, the immature crow was still unable to fly and the pigeon weak and exhausted, both had been rescued and handed to IAR as they would not have survived in their natural habitat.
The two birds were placed in recovery cages side by side within a larger enclosure used at the rescue centre to house cats, kittens and pups and other creatures at various stages of recovery and convalescence. Both settled well and soon began to flourish in the protected shelter. The pigeon quietly feasted on a diet of seeds and grain whilst the crow greedily devoured anything and everything offered to him. Possibly realising that that now they were safe and were fed regularly and that no harm would come to them, they both relaxed and became comfortable in their temporary confinement. They began to unmistakably converse with each other, nattering away together from their adjacent separate cages, cheerful raucous calls from the crow and soft warbled cooing from the pigeon communicating in their own private language.
As time passed and the feathered friends improved and grew stronger, the doors of the cages were left open so that they could freely move around the high spacious animal house during the day and to encourage them to stretch their wings and attempt flight.
The pigeon was the more advanced and soon fluttered to the high rafters of the enclosure where it surveyed the crow cheekily hopping around and inspecting the other temporary inmates while constantly keeping a watchful eye on its friend. When one bird moved to another area of the enclosure the other would instantly follow, both gaining confidence and strength and a sense of well being from their unlikely allegiance. The crow would tilt its head back with open beak and gesture the pigeon to feed it just as it would have done with its mother in the wild. Encouraged by his friend's flying the crow soon began to flap his wings and take his first tentative flight into the air joining the pigeon on the rafters where they curiously observed all the rescue centre goings-on beneath and around them. Then a few days ago the veterinary team decided they were ready to be released and the external door to the outside world was left open for the duo to venture out in their own time. Before long off they flew into the surrounding wooded countryside together.
We shall never know if the two friends will continue to remember each other or remain in contact, but both of their young lives have surely been enhanced due to the special bond forged during their stay at Animal Tracks. The shy and peaceful pigeon is maybe still around yet unobserved but the crow is spotted regularly and visits the centre each day to check on his old friends and hopefully grab a free meal
If asked to name an appealing or endearing creature, crows and pigeons would probably not be the choice for many of us, both birds are considered by many to be universal troublesome pests to society. But having recently witnessed the joyous unreserved acceptance of each other's existence demonstrated by these two very different birds, free from any acquired malice or prejudice, maybe we could learn a lesson from them in dignified behaviour and coexistence.
These two innocent young birds free from the predisposed suspicion and discrimination customarily learnt from family and flock have shown that nurture is indeed as important as nature, they intuitively disregarded the differences between them and simply accepted and absorbed the best from each other.
At Christmas the festive season of goodwill when thoughts of compassion, peace and joy are particularly evoked, it is not necessary to be a Christian or even religious to hope that we may all extend that benevolent attitude to all the creatures of the world and learn from, protect and cherish all the birds and animals around us.