Stuart Dahlquist, 56, has been a bird enthusiast for most of his life, but a family of crows has still found a way to surprise him. Recently, the Seattle man received a gift from the fellas he’s been feeding for a couple of years and if that wasn’t enough, they brought him another one the very next day.
“Crows are amazing creatures and I’ve always felt this way since I was a boy,” Stuart said. “Birds – all kinds – have been a real focal part of my life; I love watching them, listening to their calls, identifying them… Oh! And helping them if they need help. I’m not a real ‘birder’ with high powered binoculars or anything like that but they play an outsized role in my enjoyment of life.”
He has been feeding this particular crow family for about 4 years. “They nest in a large douglas fir tree that’s in our front yard and we could hear the babies when the parents would feed them,” he said. “One day I found both babies had fallen to the ground, almost able to fly but not quite. We got them into a tree and the parents – pretty angry with us actually – took it from there and the little ones survived. We began feeding them soon after.”
There were four of them, but sadly, just before these gifts showed up, the adult female was killed by a raccoon.
Stuart said he can easily tell when they’re hungry. “Sometimes when I’m walking they’ll fly with me, landing on the wires and branches above as I amble along. When we get home they like to land on the fence and wait to be fed. Other times they simply “Caw! Caw!” at us… It’s pretty obvious when they want food.” He gives them high-quality dry cat food with very little filler. “Crows aren’t as keen on corn as people seem to think.”
“The adult male is very distinctive,” Stuart said. “His right leg was injured at some point and didn’t heal properly so he hops on only one foot. I often wish we could do something about it but there really isn’t a way. He gets around just fine otherwise.”
Stuart was interested in birds for as long as he can remember. “When birds are very young, they will become very tame and I had a few wild birds as a kid; a robin, a magpie. Since I became an adult, crows have been my companions quite a lot, as well. I had one ‘The Judge’ (named after Cormac McCarthy’s character in Blood Meridian) for ten or eleven years. He was really a wonderful pet and we’d likely still have him if it wasn’t for some raccoons killing him one night. While we had The Judge we also had quite a few rescue crows while he was with us (which we released). There was one rescue that came to us while still very young and he became quite tame. We rehired him to a wild animal trainer and as I understand it that crow appears in movies.”
It’s worth mentioning that none of Stuart’s birds were taken from their parents. “They came to us as hurt, of having fallen from the nest and couldn’t be returned, or had been abandoned. Please don’t ever take a chick from its nest.”
“Buddy – This [pic was taken] right after we found him and were bandaging his broken wing.”
“The Judge hanging around the living room. He used to give the other pets hell!”