The Crow's Farewell

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  • Published: 27 Feb 2018
  • Updated: 27 Feb 2018
  • Status: Complete
All chicks must fly the nest...

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1. The Crow's Farewell

The sun shone warm on the oak tree, its wide leaves giving the light a green tinge as it hit the mossy floor of the forest. The mother crow sat in her nest, hidden among the branches. She had built her home with her mate in early spring, lining the twigs with lichen, grass and some of her own feathers. It had been a perfect place to lay her eggs and raise her chicks. There were no noisy people or smelly cars nearby. The only danger had been the foxes that prowled beneath and the occasional hawk but the crow and her mate were more than capable of fighting off predators. A caw sounded from the branch behind her. She turned and saw her last chick landing with a fat, juicy worm in his beak.

The flowers had just begun to bloom when her five chicks had hatched; so small and fluffy and barely able to open their little round eyes that gleamed like black pearls. She and her mate had spent a happy, if exhausting, few months searching for berries and bugs to sustain their chicks hungry beaks. When they had grown bigger, the chicks had begun to hop out onto the branches, flapping their little wings and experimenting with flying. There had been a few close calls when the crow’s matte had had to rescue a chick from a tumble. Eventually, they had begun to hunt for themselves and one by one had flown the nest to explore the wide world. Even her mate had left, as he did each year, to find new adventures. It would be a year before they all returned to the forest to build their nests anew.

Now only one chick was left – her youngest. He had hatched a day later than his brothers and sisters and the crow had been worried that he wouldn’t hatch at all. While she loved all of her chicks equally, she had spent more time teaching him how to fly and often gave him an extra berry. Perhaps that was why he stayed now, even when all the others were gone.

 

But she knew that her last chick would have to leave soon as well. Though there were still tufts of fluff about his neck and wings, he now boasted a sleek coat of gleaming, obsidian feathers and it had been a long time since she had had to forage food for him.

Her chick gulped down his worm and then cocked his head at her, cawing gently. The crow ruffled her feathers and hopped out onto the branch beside him. Together they spread their wings – his now bigger than hers – and pushed off the branch with their claws. Over the trees they flew and along the river that wound through the forest. The sun travelled across the sky, directly above them and then beginning its descent. The land was becoming less familiar now and the crow knew that it was time to say goodbye to her chick and let him fly on his own.

The circled each other for a while, cawing playfully. But just as the sky began to bleed red, the crow’s chick cawed a final Farwell and headed towards the horizon. The crow mourned at their parting but she did not let it show. She would see all her chicks next spring, provided they didn’t find nesting trees elsewhere. Some of them would, the crow knew that, but somehow she knew that her youngest chick would always come home.

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