As It Happens

Nova Scotia lumberjack teaches crows how to logroll

A Nova Scotia man is teaching two young crows how to logroll while rehabilitating them at his lumberjack theme park.

Darren Hudson is rehabilitating the feathered duo at his lumberjack theme park

Darren Hudson and a pair of baby crows he's currently helping to rehabilitate at Wild Axe lumberjack park in Barrington, N.S. ( Wild Axe TV/YouTube)

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When a Nova Scotia lumberjack decided to rehabilitate a family of baby crows, he had no idea they would take an interest in his favourite activity: logrolling.

Darren Hudson is a seven-time logrolling champion who also runs Wild Axe Park, a lumberjack theme park in the community of Barrington, N.S. A few weeks ago, he discovered three baby crows after accidentally felling their tree. 

Initially, he put the crows in an open box and placed them nearby in hopes of their parents returning to claim them. However, after two days it was clear the birds' parents weren't coming back.

So he took one crow to a friend to rehabilitate in Wildcat's Mi'kmaw community and took the other two home. 

He told As It Happens host Carol Off what happened next. Here is part of their conversation.

Darren, do you get many logrolling crows in your area? 

No, no, this is definitely a first. My family actually had logrolling dogs in the past. That was a thing that we always enjoyed. But now to take it to the next level, we've introduced the logrolling crows. 

Did you teach the crows to roll the logs or did that just seem to come naturally to them? 

I didn't teach them a thing. I just had my suspicions that these guys would enjoy and ... adapt to stepping on a log and staying on top. And their instincts took over and they stayed right on top. And oh, what a joy. 

The video shows that you're on the log with the crows. You're rolling that log pretty quickly. And so, they just stayed with you then?

Oh, absolutely. That was the key defining moment. Whether we could do something extraordinary was if I could actually be on the same log with these crows and roll with them in synchronicity. And it worked.

Let me tell you, they're cheating a little bit because they have spiked feet, so [their] little claws help them to grip right up there.- Darren Hudson

And that really for me was a huge, triumphant moment because I love logrolling. It's been my whole life, my biggest ambition and longest dedication. And these guys are enjoying it, too.

And let me tell you, they're cheating a little bit because they have spiked feet, so [their] little claws help them to grip right up there. 

Now, we should point out for people who haven't seen the video that you're not doing anything cruel to these crows. They are quite happily [volunteering] because they can fly away anytime they want to, right? So they're really into it. 

Oh, they do that when I roll the log and maybe they get their tail feathers a little wet and they flap their wings to get back on top. And then I slow down the log just a bit so they can regain their balance up on top. And I stop the log, they stand there, they look around and they're like, "OK, roll again." You know? 

Did they just jump on the log on their own? Did you kind of suggest that they might try it out? 

They're very intuitive with everything and everybody remarks on the intelligence of crows. So initially, of course, it's baby steps. I mean, I train a lot of people how to log roll. So I went out and I was in the water holding the logs steady for them and sat them on the log, first of all, to see if they're comfortable and befriend the log.

And I gave it a little spin to see, you know, what the reaction time was like and if it would dislodge their balance or anything. 

And no, they just [took] little tiny steps and they stayed on top.

Once you get in your body into position, you just start to roll it a little bit more ... and away we go. We're off to the races. We just progressed from there. And then I knew the final challenge was to see if I could stay on the log with them. 

And you did? 


Are you hoping that they can be returned to the wild? 

Oh, absolutely. That is 100-per-cent the plan. They're wild creatures, wild and free. And that's the way they're meant to be. And it's so beautiful to see them in their natural habitat and how they are as wild animals and how they interact with the other crows and the nature that surrounds them. That's the beauty of them. 

Do you think, though, they're getting hooked on logrolling with you? 

They are so inquisitive and such a joy. I think they really enjoy those activities that they normally wouldn't have the chance to do — one of those being canoeing. We go for nice little canoe rides. They'll sit on the gunnels and peer around in the bulrushes and see everything as it goes by.

And that's definitely an addition to my life. Now, whether they hang around and continue on this journey, it's up to them, 100 per cent. And I just appreciate these moments while they last. 

Written by Lito Howse. Produced by Katie Geleff. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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