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Spook, the Mynah Bird and Mynah Miracle

In this article, Homer tells us about his "feathered nemesis" at the Faded Glory Farm.

Spook is a pest; but when guests ask about him, Isabel tells them that he is a Mynah Bird. In reality, Spook is just a common, everyday crow that Ray found injured on our road a few years ago and nursed back to health.

In case I don't appear to be fond of this bird, you are correct, I am not. Spook is noisy, he probably has lice, he craps all over the place, and for whatever reason, Spook is the apple of Isabel's eye. Yes, I go out of my way to give him a hard time, but I know better than to hurt him.

To add insult to injury, Spook can talk. At first, he came up with loud, obnoxious, unintelligible sounds, but after being cajoled and thoroughly spoiled by Ray and Isabel, he began uttering a 'cute' little word now and then. These days, despite his rather large and vulgar vocabulary, he doesn't say much; but when he does, Isabel and everyone else within earshot listen eagerly, and they all rave about Spook, "the wonderful talking Minah Bird." So here it is; the true story of my feathered nemesis, Spook.

A few years ago, before Isabel's husband Ray passed on, the peace and quiet of our home was compromised by the arrival of "Spook," the crow. Late one September afternoon, Ralph Abernathy arrived in his propane truck to top up Ray's LP tank for the winter. As usual, Ray went outside to chat a bit with Ralph, and the two of them stood by the side of the house, Ray kicking at pebbles while Ralph enjoyed his 'chew,' spitting every so often. Bored, I just settled down in the cool grass nearby and listened.

Seems Ralph had been in kind of a hurry coming up our dirt road, and when he wheeled around the curve near the Tipton's orchard, he managed to hit a large crow that had been feeding on a possum carcass. In his rear mirrors, he had seen it crash into the weeds next to the roadside, continuing to flutter wildly. "Do you think he's dead?" Ray asked. "Doubt it," Ralph replied, "I wasn't going all that fast." Instantly, I knew what was going on in Ray's mind; he has always talked about the pet crow he had as a kid, and now his interest was piqued.

Shortly thereafter, I scrambled into the bed of Ray's pickup truck, and we followed Ralph's dust cloud back down the driveway. Sure enough, Ray found the nearly dead crow still fluttering and twitching helplessly in the tall grass near the orchard fence. Since this crow was badly injured, frightened, and really angry, when Ray approached him, he tried to attack us. Ray revised his plan and scooped the crow up in an old burlap bag that had been blowing around in the back of his pickup.

Two hours and seventy-five dollars later, we left Dr. Stubbs' veterinary clinic with a patched-up and still very angry crow. "Crushed wing; probably never fly again; no guarantee that he's going to make it through this . . ." Dr. Ben Stubbs murmured quietly as he folded Ray's cash in half and slipped it into the pocket of his lab coat. At this point, there was no doubt that Ray was committed as he gingerly placed the bag on the seat of his truck, and we headed for home.

I never realized that socializing a wild crow could be so difficult and painful, but over the next six months, Spook's recovery could only be described as 'miraculous' as he pecked, scratched and clawed his way into our lives. Although I had several opportunities to end everyone's frustration and pain with one swift lunge, I, too, was almost eager to witness the outcome of their folly. "That lice-ridden bird will someday make them sorry," I thought.

Spook's home evolved over the next year from a big cardboard box on the dining room floor, to a large, well-worn cage purchased at Goodwill. His wing feathers grew back, and his mindless fits of cawing and shrieking grew more infrequent as the days passed. He even got so he would tolerate being bathed; and although he would hiss and halfheartedly peck at Isabel, I think he secretly liked the attention. It was beginning to look like this nasty little creature was going to make it after all.

About a month after Ray died, Spook finally managed to cement his place in Isabel's heart by shouting "Whitlow" over and over again from his grimy perch that hangs in the small Victorian sitting room. Isabel would exclaim, "Ray would be so proud if he could be here today." And I guess Ray would have been.

These days, Spook regularly holds court at the Inn, and he rarely misses an opportunity to upstage me in my bid for our guests' attention and gracious handouts. Still, he is more of a pest than an enemy. I guess I can be grateful for one thing; at least he's not a dog or a cat.

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