This past spring, an Ottawa family discovered an injured baby bird in the grass near a bike path and took it home to nurse it back to health.

Now, Walter the crow is able to fly, but that's about all that's ordinary about him.

"He's certainly my best friend in the animal kingdom. He's my best animal friend," said 11-year-old Livia Renaud.

"He's like another child in our family," said Livia's little brother, Zachary.

Free to come and go, but doesn't go far

The Renauds already had two cats and a couple of fish when they found the baby crow, so at first Livia's mother, Elissa Renaud, was hesitant to take him home. But in the end the family decided to take the plunge.

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Walter the crow is free to come and go, but he likes to hang out in the trees near the Renaud home and around the neighbourhood school. (CBC)

The plan was to nurse him back to health and let him back into the wild for good. The research the family did said that's what would probably happen.

However, it didn't quite work out that way.

Although Walter — who mainly feeds himself — is free to come and go as he pleases, he doesn't go far.

Follows children to school

"We go on bike rides around, and we talk together, and sometimes if I'm feeling sad I'll tell him because I know he won't tell anyone else. Or secrets my friends have told me, and I really need to get them out, I'll just tell him because I know he won't talk," Livia said.

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Walter is a regular fixture at the schoolyard before and after class, and during recess. Zachary Renaud, left, and Livia Renaud, right, say Walter follows them around. (CBC)

When she and Zachary go to school, Walter hops along beside them. Livia said he hangs out in the trees, and swoops over at recess to play.

Elissa Renaud knew Walter was here to stay on the first day of school this year.

"As I walked the kids to school, he trotted along behind us and I realized, yeah. ... He thinks he's part of us and he's going to walk the kids to school and take care of them and be part of the gang. I realized that he was going to stay," she said.

'I really love him,' Livia says

After school, Walter follows Livia and Zachary home.

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Elissa Renaud says the family feels honoured that Walter has decided to stick around, and now he's part of the gang. (CBC)

Their father Patrik Renaud, a teacher, shows videos of Walter to his classes.

"I think it's really cool. Totally unusual," Patrik Renaud said. "It's a great learning experience for my kids, and for everyone involved."

And like any good friend, Walter seems to know when he's needed most.

"One day I wasn't feeling that great and I was on the couch, and he flew in through the back door and he came and he sat on the couch. And he snuggled under my arm and we were watching TV together, so that really made our bond stronger," Livia said.

"I really love him and if something ever happened to him I would be really, really, really sad."