Fred Learns To Fly
By Jo Cooper
     Every day on his way to school Stephen stopped under the tall pine tree and looked up at the nest. "Caw, caw, caw," mama crow would warn as she swooped down over his head. She didn't want him to get too close to her babies.
     "I can't climb that high pine tree," Stephen would tell her as he quickly walked on.
     One morning Stephen came running back to the house. "Mother, mother, come quick! One of the baby crows has fallen out of the nest."
     Mother went with him. There on the ground was a fuzzy, gray bird. He was huddled into a ball and his bright beady eyes were the only things that
     "He's alive, isn't he?" 11-year-old Stephen asked. "Could he fall from so high and be OK?"      They looked up at the tree, high above the house.
     "Maybe he dropped from branch to branch and then landed in the ivy," Mother said. They got an old canary cage from the garage, lined the bottom with newspaper and gently put the bird in it. He was about the size of a full-grown robin, seven inches from his beak to his tail.
     "Can I call the animal doctor that takes care of our dog?" Stephen asked.
     Yes, that's a good idea."
     The veterinarian gave him the number of a bird lady in town who had a whole house full of sick and wounded birds. The bird lady told him how to take care of the baby crow.
     "Don't try to force water in him with an eye dropper," she said, "or you'll choke him. Use a Q-tip and put the food way down his throat."
     Every two hours during the day Stephen fed him. At night the bird slept. The bird lady said the bird needed a well balanced diet much like a person. Crows could eat rice, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, even avocado and grapes, as well as whole wheat bread, raw meat, cottage cheese, corn, broken up dog biscuits, and insects.
     When Stephen dropped in a piece of meat, the crow made a funny noise like "gobble, gobble, gobble." It must be crow language for yum yum.
     What should we name him?" Stephen asked.
     "Maybe Freddie the Freeloader, because you have to feed him so often," Father said, smiling.

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