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Meeting Crow

June 01, 1986|KATHLEEN BROWN

It all started when two enthusiastic dogs came upon a 2-week-old baby bird--all beak, scrawny, featherless, incredibly ugly--hung up in a bush. Luckily for Marvin, the dogs were only over-exuberant, and not hungry or grouchy. His close call was happily resolved when he was saved and then adopted by Carol and Richard Holmes. He has ruled their roost ever since.

Marvin started life on human baby food, deposited into his demanding beak like clockwork every two hours for the first few weeks, and he's not yet acquired a taste for worms. He has a place set for him at the dinner table even now. As for being prompt, Marvin has impeccable manners and is always on time.

Flying was the topic Mom was just about to cover--before Marvin fell from his nest, that is--so Carol had to teach him to fly by pumping her arms up and down so he'd get the idea. One wonders why Marvin doesn't fly away when he goes outside now. Once he spreads his wings, he just starts divebombing the porch for the sole purpose of amazing his audience. But then, why should he go? He's got it made. The other crows in the neighborhood try to persuade him to join them, but he struts over to the front door, knocks with his pointy beak to demand entry and saunters over to his split-level bird mansion (complete with swimming pool)--which occupies a full third of the Holmes' living room.

As to the commonly held belief that birds of the straight-beaked variety do not tolerate birds with beaks of other persuasions, Marvin clearly doesn't hold such silly prejudices. He shares his mansion with an Amazon parrot named Buddy and another crow named Henri.

The Great Danes with whom Marvin deigns to live, however, receive different treatment. If, on a particular day, he doesn't like one of their faces, he'll just walk across a nose, pull a tail or peck at some legs. Those dogs know all about eating crow.

Though Marvin calls his third of the living room home, he's got the run of the entire house. Just try to stop him. If the phone rings and Marvin gets there first, you'd better know the difference between two caws and three. If Carol talks too long, he's liable to disconnect her. If nobody's around and the phone rings once too often, he'll knock it off the hook. He's good at sorting mail, too, completely ignoring the irrelevant junk and tearing into the bills with the gusto appropriate only to those who don't have to pay them.

As to visitors, Marvin loves them one and all, sizing up each one with a beady-eyed scrutiny. Just make sure to check your shoelaces occasionally. And keep a close eye on your purses, ladies, and all contents therein that are remotely portable. It's the chase he's after, really. That and keeping things stirred up. He contends it's altogether too boring around the place most of the time.

It's quite believable that Marvin has never considered the possibility that he's a crow at all. The difference between him and the guys outside the window is like night and day, black and white. He's the one in the tuxedo, always in command, smooth, exuding a confidence that can awe or intimidate, depending on your orientation to foot-tall crows. How do I know all this about Marvin, you ask. A large black bird told me so.

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