Buddy the Crow uplifts community of Elnora’s spirits during pandemic

Michelle Thiem with her living pet bird, Buddy, perched on her shoulder in the car. Buddy has made a name for himself in Elnora with daily check-ins and habits that entertain the community. Buddy enjoys these visits as well as family time and doing the dishes with his mom. ECA Review/Michelle Thiem
Written by Terri Huxley

Michelle Thiem with her living pet bird, Buddy, perched on her shoulder in the car. Buddy has made a name for himself in Elnora with daily check-ins and habits that entertain the community. Buddy enjoys these visits as well as family time and doing the dishes with his mom. ECA Review/Michelle Thiem

What most would just see as any other crow, the community of Elnora knows him as Buddy.

This crow was found by Michelle Thiem a number of months ago where he was nursed back to health and later set free.

With this newfound freedom, neighbours have many fond stories to share of Buddy – especially his helpful nature and bargaining tactics such as exchanging shiny rocks for signs which are never to be seen again.

The COVID-19 has dampened many spirits lately with constant ups and downs of restrictions and relaxations but for Elnora, the population has something they can look forward to like seeing Buddy coming for a visit.

Attention was first drawn to the feathered friend when a Facebook post was first published in the local buy and sell group where one member found the bird to be rather annoying.

Soon, other community members shared that it was actually Buddy and started posting videos and photos of him in action, enjoying his presence.

Now, locals always look to the sky and trees for a sighting of him.

“He’s very social. I never realized birds were so social. Maybe a parrot but he’s made his way throughout town and making friends. Like people are concerned if he is not around and they haven’t seen him for a couple of days they are calling me and they are concerned saying ‘Is Buddy okay?’ ‘Can he come out to play’, ‘He makes us laugh’ he makes us smile,’” said Thiem.

Thiem’s fiance’s three daughters were in their backyard one day when a small crow was found at the base of a tree then two others were found nearby as well. Two did not make it but the third was still alive.

This is Buddy’s origin story.

The family was hesitant that he would make the night being in such rough condition as they were unsure how long the birds were out there without food or water or attention.

But miraculously he did.

“The fact that he survived the evening was huge,” she said. “And then he just had that drive of ‘I’m hungry and I’m hungry now and anybody feed me’ so it was pretty neat to experience that.”

Thiem added that they knew it wasn’t the best option to keep the bird for too long but found the nest at the top of the tree was far out of reach and the potential for him to survive was slim at the time.

“We didn’t mean to have him imprint on us. We didn’t mean to keep him because the intent all along was to release him but what we thought and what his thoughts were are completely different. [Buddy] insisted on staying and hanging out with us.”

A classic example of this is when it’s time for Thiem or her husband to go to work.

Buddy will insist on joining and follow their vehicle all the way to wherever they need to be.

Thiem, who works for Elnora’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), refers to Buddy as her ‘Therapy Crow’ and recommends everyone should have one to boost morale.

“He’s actually great for mental health,” she said.

For anyone that may get a visit from him, Thiem advises that he is friendly and isn’t out to destroy anyone’s property.

If he swoops by closely, it is because he is trying to sit on your shoulder but needs to fly in from the other side first for a better perch.

For one family, Buddy is a beloved pet but for a community, Buddy’s joyful presence spreads further.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.