Rehab Workshop 2017


We’ve received a few calls for handling crows in the past with people absolutely clueless as to what needs to be done and mostly just scared to help because the crows around were being aggressive and attacking anyone that approaches. This is one of my favourite stories that I’d like to share with you: it is not only a fine example of a reunion with minimal intervention but also an excellent example of teamwork by an amazing bunch of absolutely wonderful people. Forgive me for I’m going to go into more detail than is required but I hope the additional information will be of help to someone in a similar situation in the future.

Day 1: So it was the end of May, 2014 and someone found a young crow (about a week or so short of fledging) fallen from the nest one evening. The parents were still following the baby and protecting it; and with all good intentions, the gentleman placed him back on the neem tree nearby. After a few failed attempts, as the baby kept jumping off, he decided to take the little guy home and seek help.

Day 2: With only as much information as I had in hand (and handling the situation remotely), we decided to keep the lil’ guy in a cage and hang it on the same tree under which he was found – the intention was that the parents could continue to feed him and remain bonded with him and we would subsequently release him in a week or two once he could fly a little more and remain on the tree (instead of falling/jumping off). Unfortunately, it took us a day to get friends who could help – as he had to be watched in turns; be put out in the cage during the day, taken back in in the afternoon – the heat was just too much to leave him outside; hand-fed in the remaining time; and most of all, we needed someone close-by who would agree to keep him and look after him. Also, we need to borrow a cage which we only got hold of at the end day.

Day 3: I went over early in the morning to give the lil’ guy a feed and help the wonderful bunch to secure the cage to the tree but to my despair, the cage we managed to borrow happened to be a bird cage with a narrow weave mesh of not more than 0.75 cm gaps – completely useless for crows, their beak would never get through to feed the baby. What would have been better suited instead (for reuniting any bird in that case) would have been puppy cages – they are sturdier and have bigger gaps and are ideal for the birds to feed their chicks though them. This cage, I knew, would be of no help in this case and I was worried we were losing more time. The lil’ guy in the meanwhile was very stressed – it had just been a day and we were only just settling down with his handling and feeding regime.

Suyaja, in the meanwhile had identified the nesting tree the night before so we went straight up to the tree to look for the parents. The nest was at a height of about 25 feet in a partially trimmed Gulmohar tree. Fortunately, there were two more unfledged babies high up on the tree – about a couple of meters above the nest. The parents, although in the vicinity were not in proximity of the nest so it was very difficult to identify them as the parents until our movement at the tree increased and the parents came to investigate but we were certain once the actual reunion process began as they started mobbing – fortunately, not aggressively at all in our case since it was only a single nesting pair and not a colony of crows.

 At one point, while looking for a way to place the baby high up in the tree, I did consider calling the fire brigade for help. But since the nest was in the centre of the tree rather than the periphery where the truck’s ladder would have reached, I thought it would be best if we could just get someone to climb up the tree.

Lucky for us, the nesting site was near a hutment and the security guards from the adjacent colony called a young man who was willing to climb up the tree for a little tip. Their main apprehension was that the crows would not only attack them during the process but that they would recognize them and repeatedly attack them every single time the boys crossed the tree. So they called someone who doesn’t normally use that route.

N.B. Crows will mob any predator (including the rescuers) in great numbers. They can and will come at you from all sides and their strong, sharp beak can cause significant damage. So please ensure to wear some protective gear when going in to rescue/assist crows. I personally prefer to use a full-face motorcycle helmet with the visor covering the eyes; perhaps a full-sleeved shirt and some gloves would also be helpful but I would say a helmet or some kind of protective glasses covering the eyes is the minimum that must be worn.

We had everything ready – the baby bird in a box, a motorcycle helmet for the climber’s safety and some rope to haul up the box with the baby bird. The entire operation at the tree did not take more than 5 minutes. The lad, wearing a helmet, climbed up the tree with a rope, pulled up the box, put the baby back in the nest, lowered the box and quickly came down and we immediately cleared the area. The crows (including the two unfledged chicks that were on a branch above the nest) were certainly agitated but settled down as soon as we were gone.

 Subsequent visits through the days found the baby securely perched in his nest and we let them be at that.


A big thanks to the wonderful team: Ajay for picking up this baby, Zareen for letting us borrow her cage (which we didn’t need to use), Amruta Ubale for facilitating the entire process and making all the arrangements, and a massive thank you to Priyanka Menon and her family for looking after the lil’ one and Sujaya Ghormade (sorry Suj, made you run too much!) and Arpna Dev for going out of their way and helping to take care of him!! Thanks a bunch guys!! Bless you a million times!!

I owe another big thank you to Arpna for the photo and video documentation of the process. This is one thing I always miss out on since I’m usually a part of the process! And a big thank you to Sujaya for the photo documentation of the hand-feeding process – pics are available in the hand-raising protocol. Thanks for being there guys!

- Devna Arora

Pune, India


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