Bird that bonded to humans rather than fellow crows gets new home in Nova Scotia

Charlottetown’s Atlantic Veterinary College has bid an emotional goodbye to a long-term resident of its rehabilitation program.

Bonded to humans at a young age, Croweena could never be released into the wild

Croweena spent several years at the Atlantic Veterinary College. (Submitted by Fiep de Bie)

Charlottetown's Atlantic Veterinary College has bid an emotional goodbye to a long-term resident of its rehabilitation program.

Croweena, a female crow, came to AVC in 2016.

"She was really an exception and a very special crow," said AVC wildlife technician Fiep de Bie.

"You form a bond with an animal, but we always had the best for her in mind."

Croweena was a young bird when she arrived at AVC and they didn't know anything about her history. She had a big problem. She had become imprinted on humans, bonding with them rather than with her fellow crows.

People become bonded with animals they spend a lot of time with, says Fiep de Bie, so it wasn't easy to let Croweena go. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"We tried to release her at some point but crow families are so intricate and intelligent," said de Bie.

"She was attacked in the process and, yeah, we could just barely save her."

And so Croweena became part of life at AVC. Students were introduced to Croweena and taught about habituation and imprinting and the problems associated with it for wildlife.

A new friend

But AVC's rehabilitation facilities are not designed for permanent residents.

So de Bie began searching for a long-term home for her. It would have to be outside P.E.I., because provincial regulations prohibit the keeping of wildlife.

They found a match at Hope for Wildlife in Nova Scotia, a wildlife rehabilitation and education centre in Nova Scotia. It not only had an appropriate habitat for her, but also had Tilly. Tilly was a male crow, also imprinted on humans. Discovered in 2015, there was also little known about his history.

"When we looked closely and examined Tilly he had pink toenails, so that was kind of a clue that someone had had him as a pet for quite some time," said Hope for Wildlife founder Hope Swinimer.

"We'd really hoped to be able to rehabilitate and release to the wild, and we actually tried, but he ended up getting injured also and now he's back with us."

Swinimer said Tilly and Croweena are learning to get along. They eat together and will share space in a warm, enclosed area of their habitat, but tend to keep to themselves so far when they are out in the more open area.

But Swinimer hopes the two will work out any differences they have.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


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