Every year, I have a blue jay that takes all summer to get healthy. My first rehab summer was graced with a jay named Pedialyte because he came to be severely undernourished and I had to feed him pinkie mice soaked in pedialyte to get him healthy enough to grow feathers and strong enough to take on the world. Last summer was Miracle Jay (my naming-fu was seriously off). He started off the summer with legs the consistency of cooked spaghetti and ended up able to head off by September.
This year’s candidate has some kind of extreme nerve damage. I have named him Victor Hugo since he is the corvid equivalent of the hunchback of Notre Dame. He does not think much of me since I catch him up to do physical therapy on his wings in the hopes that stretching them out will help strengthen them. Whenever he tries to get away, he ends up losing his balance and doing somersaults across the bottom of the flight cage like a cartoon character. He has a long way to go.
Then there’s Conflicted Corvid, a crow fledge who has decided that humans are bad news (gold star for me that he didn’t imprint on people) but that pinkie mice are best served by tong directly into the mouth. Every morning he makes pathetic “I dying here” cries until I show up with mice. Then he hops over to the nearest perch and begs until I produce the mouse, at which point he remembers that he’s terrified of me. So he sidles away from me on the branch with his mouth wide open still begging. If I don’t chase him, he comes back to the end closest to me begging wildly, but when I start to feed him, he starts inching away again. My technique is now to chase after him. I can usually catch up with him mid-branch and sort of toss the mouse into his mouth. Apparently this is an acceptable method, although it brings up the age-old question of whether I train crows or crow train me.