Meriwether

I had a crow when I was a kid. No joke.

My dad brought it home from a campground where he had been working. It was a baby crow that fell out of the nest. Dad found it and brought it home.

Notice that I keep saying “it”? We had no idea if this bird was a boy or a girl. I’m sure you bird experts out there could tell me a surefire way to never guess the gender of another bird in my life, but I don’t really want to know. I’d rather keep the mystery.

But since my siblings and I didn’t know if our fine feathered friend was of the male or female persuasion, we gave it a neutral name.

Meriwether.

This may not look like a non-gender-specific name on the outset, but let me walk you through the thought process of four elementary-aged home schoolers.

We had been learning at the time of the great Lewis and Clark expedition. We had also heard rumor that my mom is a descendant of their guide Sacagawea. How better to honor the great explorers and our great-great-great-great-(I could keep going)-grandmother than to name our gender confused crow after Mr Lewis?! If the crow does decide it is a she, we’ll shorten her name to Mary. Or Meri, which we called him/her anyway.

And this is how I spent one summer of my childhood. I soaked dog food for the baby bird so s/he could swallow it. Meri grew quickly. We couldn’t allow him/her to stay in the house soon after Spring had sprung. I was terrified that if we allowed Meri a moment of freedom, s/he would never come back to me.

But despite my protests, the day came. Together with my siblings and mom, we took Meri outside. We said our goodbyes and shed a few tears.

“What’s the matter with you? We’ve only had it for 2 weeks!” my sister chided.

“But I don’t want it to leave!” I replied. I guess I was the only one upset about it. My brother never really cared for the bird, and my mom thought s/he was too dirty to have in the house.

So she let him/her go. Meri was finally big enough to carry his/her weight with the now strong wings, and s/he flew high into the trees, never to be seen again.

For about five minutes.

Meri never strayed too far from our house. S/he nested in one of the garages and was up every morning to get his/her soggy dog food from me.

I would tell my friends that we had a pet crow that lived in the trees, but no one believed me. “Crows just live in the trees. They aren’t your pets.

“Well most of them don’t come when I call their names. But Meri does!”

They wouldn’t believe me until they came over to play. I would stand in the middle of the yard, yell “MEEERRRRIIII!!!!!” at the top of my lungs, and our crow would come swooping down to astonished faces and my beaming pride.

But Meri wouldn’t just come on command. For months when we came home, Meri would greet us. S/he would do this by landing on the hood of the car, usually before the car had come to a complete stop. It made Mom scream which made me laugh.

It was this nasty habit that took Meri in the end. S/he was trying to greet the mailman while he delivered the letters. He wasn’t aware of our psycho crow and its car-landing habits, and Meri wasn’t aware that just because a car stops, doesn’t mean it won’t go again. She landed in front of our mailman’s car this time, and didn’t fly away fast enough when he was finished in the mailbox.

I was devastated. Trying to cheer me up, my dad brought home a baby purple finch which he also found at work.

It survived about 3 days.

 

Image Credit: JR Compton

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