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       Every time he fed him, Stephen would say, "Hello Fred, hello Fred."
     Fred soon learned to call "caw, caw," loudly.
     Father brought home a turkey cage and tied some branches in a criss-cross so that Fred could learn to walk on branches. Stephen fixed a flowerpot saucer with Kleenex and put it in one corner of the cage for a nest.
     Stephen loved to have Fred climb on him. Sometimes the bird would try to pull threads out of his red jeans or tug at his blond hair. Fred loved to be taken outside for exercise, but he always hated to be brought back into the house.
     One Saturday morning Stephen ran into the bedroom and woke his mother up with, "He flew! He really can fly. He went all the way from the deck to the peach tree." This was about 15 yards.
     Sunday Fred flew a little farther, into the olive tree.
     Wednesday after school, Stephen's teacher came to visit and to see Fred. Stephen had wanted to take him to school. The bird lady warned him this might frighten Fred too much. So some of the children came, a few at a time, to see Fred at home.
     Mother took Fred out of his cage and as
Stephen and the teacher watched, Fred flew high above the house.
     "Hello, Fred, hello Fred!" Stephen called for him to come back to be fed, but some mockingbirds drove him away. He flew high above the houses until he was out of sight.
     Stephen ran to the front of the house and down the driveway calling, "Hello Fred, hello Fred," but the bird didn't come to him. He was grown now and on his own.
     For several weeks, every time he heard the "caw, caw, caw" of a crow, Stephen would run outside and call back, "Hello Fred, hello Fred." He was worried because Fred hadn't learned how to catch insects to feed himself.
     One day he saw five crows sitting high on top of a telephone pole. Four of the birds were together and one smaller, rather scrawny looking one was over to the other side. "Hello Fred, hello Fred," Stephen called up. Four crows flew away. "It's him, it's Fred!" Stephen cried. Mother went in the house and brought out some raw liver, Fred's favorite food. Stephen held out his hand and called again, "Hello Fred," and Fred flew down to him and ate one piece of liver. Then he flew away, following his new friends.
     "Goodby, Fred," Stephen said sadly.

by Ralph Cooper, 12-22-07
     This story was published in the October, 1977 issue of KIND, the publication of The Humane Society of the United States. It is a true story. "Mother" in the story was Jo, "Stephen" is our son, and "Fred" was himself. The photographs below were taken at about the same time, May, 1977, in the backyard of our home in Pasadena, California. Included is a picture of our dog Chris, who was VERY interested in Fred.
Jo, Fred & Stephen
Steve feeds Fred on the deck.

Chris meets Fred
Fred strolling on the deck


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