The usual, "UNUSUAL PETS" I have had! Chapter 3
Amos and Andy torment mom.
Chapter 3 (of 5)
Birds were fascinating. I began to seek bigger and prettier birds. Grackles, starlings and sparrows were all too common and easy to catch and frankly bird watching was more fun now than catching them. By now I had incubated pheasant and duck eggs I had found raising the hatchlings up but more and more I desired to find a crow's nest. Of course eventually we did. We included my buddy Butch. Butch had the bug too and he was 4 years older than me, a big advantage when it came to climbing trees.
Well like all red blooded American boys we found a haunted house a couple miles from our home. We could hike there through the woods which usually added animals to my menagerie. The haunted house was an abandoned mansion on an estate once owned by an 1800s governor of the state we lived in. Well it wasn't exactly abandoned, but it was empty. Anyway on one of our excursions to the haunted house we came upon a row of 30 foot tall pine trees on the estate of the haunted house and our well trained eyes discerned what could be a crows nest near the top of those trees. We had nothing better to do so we watched and watched and eventually saw the crows coming to feed their babies. Eureka!! What a discovery! Mainly because the crows had nested in trees that we could climb! Well almost...the tree with the nest was unclimbable but the one next to it 10 feet away was easily climbable. We had to devise a plan. Butch had an idea. At home he had some bamboo poles about 10 feet long. He'd climb the tree. I'd hand him the pole and he'd climb higher and use it to disrupt the nest in the branches of the other tree while I stood at the bottom of the tree and caught the babies as they fell to the ground. It was the perfect plan....well almost, just one thing we didn't plan on.
So Butch climbed up over twenty feet in the pine tree and moved out on a limb toward the other tree as far as he could holding onto a parallel limb at his chest level. the pole just reached the nest and he poked and poked until one of the four baby crows fell. Their feathers were half way in so they kind of floated down to where I'd grab them before they hit the ground. Three down and one to go, but by now the parents were circling right above and making such a racket other crows were flocking around. There I stood under the limb where the nest was looking straight up with my mouth open - with half a dozen crows now circling above I guess it was inevitable that one of them would poop and it fall from a height of 60 feet RIGHT INTO MY MOUTH! (hard to see it coming from that height when your looking at the nest below a sunlit sky) Just as the fourth baby crow was jostled from the nest I went down, but choking and spitting I managed to grab the baby crow by the neck keeping it from hitting the ground.
Amos 'n Andy
Success! We had done it. it was so exhilarating I couldn't describe it (not just because of the foul mouth). When we got home we each took two. I named mine Amos and Andy. I raised them on dog food and they immediately bonded to me - in a couple weeks or so they were flying to me on command.
Amos had a great voice and exercised it regularly but we recognized right from the start that Andy's caw was a bit muffled and as he grew when he tried to caw it sounded like a weak whistle - probably that last minute grab of his neck damaged his vocal chords, but he grew up to be otherwise normal!
So we had obtained the greatest unusual pets of our lifetime. I kept mine in an aviary by the cellarway below my bedroom window. In the summer they'd fly from their aviary in the morning to my bedroom window to be fed, perch on and around the house and fly down to my shoulder when I called them. They had no desire for wild crows which would attack them any time they flew by. However all that freedom was soon to come to an end.
My next door neighbor had a tomato garden with one huge prize tomato he was going to let go to seed. He'd come out day after day and adore it. Strangely he noticed instead of getting bigger it seemed to be shrinking. Closer examination revealed the insides had been sucked out through a hole in the back of the tomato. This is when we discovered how crows eat tomatoes. The neighbor complained to mom, and that day we clipped the crows' wings and kept them in the yard like a couple of chickens.
Well that was fine with my brother and our friends because the crows were a hoot. They would tease our dog, a Lhasa Apso who had trouble seeing through all the hair over his eyes. Amos would peck at his butt and when he went to chase Amos, Andy would swoop in and hit his butt. They had him dizzy going back and forth (nothing like what my squirrel would do with him which you'll read about in chapter three) The funniest thing though was watching my mother hang out the laundry!
The crows would stalk her just waiting for her to set down the laundry basket. Then one would sneak up to it and pull the clothing through the square holes in the plastic laundry basket. When my mother would shew them away they'd get out of her reach and crow at her as if they were laughing. So she'd have to hold the basket while hanging the clothes which inevitably caused her to drop a clothespin. Like lightning they'd run in and grab it, prancing around with their prize. Mom would set the basket down and chase the crow who would just stay out of reach and when she stopped he'd quickly drop the clothespin and crow at her. If she made a move for the clothespin he'd snatch it up and move off repeating the whole behavior.... meanwhile the other crow was dragging clothing out of the basket. They just lived to torment her. Eventually my mom started complaining her clothespins were missing and she'd have to buy more. That fall I was raking the leaves in the yard and I found a pile of clothespins buried behind a forsythia bush in the corner of the yard.