Yesterday morning, on the tail end of one of my jogging loops through Griffith Park, I ran past a crow sitting on top of a chain link fence. The sight gave me pause because the crow was oddly close to the road, so close that it seemed like most birds would have flown away when some gangly human and his jangling, equally gangly dog ran by in a huff. But the crow stayed put.
I slowly—with Owen (the dog) obediently sitting farther off behind me—approached the crow and, still, it didn’t make a move to fly from the fence. And on closer inspection, it just seemed slightly…off.
I let it be though, assuming it was just momentarily dazed, and ran on down the street with Owen.
Then, when we were a block down, two gardeners came into the yard next to the crow’s fence in all their weed-whacking, lawn-mowing cacophony. As the lawn-mower approached the crow, we watched from down the street as the bird reluctantly and sluggishly took flight, immediately, erratically dipping down in the air back toward the lawn before jerking upward again and then corkscrewing wildly and violently, smacking head-first into the asphalt of the road.
We ran back up to the crow as it gained enough composure to sit upright in the middle of the south-bound lane and were able to wave off the oncoming cars before scooping the crow up and bringing it to the side of the road to better evaluate. Whether it was the crow’s overall affliction or the head-first dive into the street or both, it was out of it, scanning wildly all around and weakly flapping its wings. Carefully, I wrapped my hands around the poor thing and walked it the rest of the way home, over the crest of the hill that divides our canyon from the next one over.
Once home, the crow—who we decided was very lady-like and most probably named Evelyn—settled into a little cave of plants on the embankment by our outdoor office space along with a dish of water and vegan dog food (which she actually ate a bit of). I spent the rest of the day guarding Evelyn from neighborhood cats, checking on her from time to time to make sure she was doing alright, and trying to get through to the California Wildlife Center.
Despite my personal fascination with ravens + crows, I’d never seen or dealt with one this close up and, despite myself, far-fetched fantasies of nursing the crow back to health and having it visit us regularly for treats and little inter-species pow-wows circled through my mind.
In the end though, Evelyn died in the back seat of our car nine or so hours after me first finding her. We were sitting in front of the home of the very kind CWC Animal Care Coordinator who’d offered to take her in for the night when she…just stopped moving. Denys, from CWC, said it was most likely West Nile Virus, which is transmitted via mosquito bite and seen a lot in large birds this time of year. It attacks the central nervous system and wares them down from there. He thanked us for caring and we brought Evelyn’s body back to our house.
We just buried her in our front yard, with a little flower on top and seeds scattered all around her headstone. I’ve got no moral, no advice for anyone else who finds animals in need of help other than: Help. I wish I could have helped more, as always. But maybe there’ll be sunflowers there one day.