Rescued Crow Becomes Rainier Man’s Lifesaver


Crows: Spooky? Check. Clever? Check. Capable of unlikely and healing friendships? Check, check, check.

Jonny Snow the Crow, affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Snow” by his rescuer, spent five days in the loving hands of Rainier-resident John Wilson. Wilson chronicled his time with the bird on Facebook, which ended with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife stepping in to make sure the animal would make a healthy transition back into nature.

Wilson was on a call for his business, Wilson’s Tree Expert Company and Sunrise Farm, when he came across the crow, immobile and abandoned in the middle of a roadway near Lake Lawrence late last month.

“As I was out there, I noticed there was a bird, medium sized, (which) appeared to be black,” Wilson said in an interview with the Nisqually Valley News. “It was in the roadway, right in a lane of traffic. I hit a branch and I backed up. Nobody was coming and I looked down there and I said, ‘What’s the matter with you, little fella?’, and it just stood there. It wasn’t going to move.”

So Wilson got out of his truck and looked around for the crow’s parents. Finding none, he bent down to pick the bird up, who allowed Wilson to transport him into the vehicle’s passenger side.

Like a loving father, Wilson took the bird home and set up a makeshift nest for it in a large crate in a warm greenhouse that was kept open for the crow to leave when he gained the strength to fly.

After calling the Yelm Veterinary Clinic and finding out the place was full, Wilson set out on a journey to heal the crow.

“I tried to give it some water and it wouldn’t take water, nor food, for two days, and I was really concerned about the thing,” Wilson said.

The crow needed nourishment, so Wilson decided to take action. 

“On the third day, I got a syringe out, and I force-fed him water, just not a lot,” he said. “And then, all of a sudden, it just got a lot of energy. And then I put a bowl of mixed fruit that I read that they like to eat in front of it, with a little cat food.”

Wilson used a small, black straw to feed the bird, which looked enough like a crow’s beak for the bird to accept the offerings.

“Update on Mr. Snow the Crow,” Wilson posted for his 603 Facebook followers on June 25. “This guy is eating and drinking like crazy. Seems to like a mixture of banana and mealworms. He is eating and drinking on his own. ... He is given freedom to come and go. So far he elects to stay. He gets a few hours of wing exercise by holding him in my hand moving him up then down quickly. This forces him to extend his wings with a flap motion.”

As the bird gained strength, Wilson set up a perch near his deck, and the crow took to it, accompanying Wilson and his dog in the afternoon sun each day.

And the three forged an unlikely friendship.

“When I came home from work, Mr. Snow would come promptly over and I would sit on the deck and have an ice water or a cold beer, and Mr. Snow would come over and sit next to me,” Wilson said. “We have a Rottweiler/lab mixed dog named Hank the Tank. And Hank took a liking to this bird. He watched it. Wherever Mr. Snow went, so did Hank. He guarded this bird like it was his best buddy.”

During the five days the bird stayed with Wilson and his dog, he made an imprint on their lives while making a remarkable recovery, Wilson said.

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife learned of Wilson’s efforts, and removed the bird from the man’s care while Wilson was at work.

“Mr. Snow was able to fly three or four times and then it was a Monday morning,” Wilson said. “I went off to work to go look at another job. Fish and Wildlife came and took Mr. Snow. It really upset me, because they didn’t call or nothing. I never got a call or nothing.”

Distraught, Wilson said he called the department.

“I said, ‘The worst thing that happened today was Mr. Snow came to this property without a cage and he left in a cage,’” Wilson said

Wilson was then contacted by the department’s captain, he said, who explained humans often create a harmful imprint on a wild animal, causing it to be too trusting and leaving it open to injury.

“Well, it’s against the law to keep wildlife,” Wilson said, of his conversations with Fish and Wildlife, though he couldn’t hide his frustration. “Well, what are you supposed to do? Leave him in the road? This bird doesn’t come attached with a tag that says, ‘Don’t pick me up. It’s against the law.’”

A little while later, the department called back and explained to a still disgruntled Wilson that if it called first in these types of situations, people generally hide the animal in question, which would be even more damaging, he said.

In the end, Wilson gained a better understanding of how wildlife can safely be rehabilitated.

“If you see a wild animal that has been injured, know the resources. Give Fish and Wildlife a call,” Wilson said, adding that he appreciated the work the department does, and the information it gave him was essential for his understanding of why the department stepped in. “This information was vital to know and we’d very much like to take part in rescuing animals. If anyone has any questions about rescuing animals, call Fish and Wildlife right away and they’ll send out resources.”

Wilson may have worked to rehabilitate the bird, but the crow’s work on the man was where the true healing happened, Wilson said.

He said his time with the bird healed him from a period of depression and anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mr. Snow had become very partial to me, and running a business in Washington state is not easy, especially with this COVID thing,” Wilson said. “We usually have some extra money to kind of have in case of emergencies. Right now, we really don’t, and that’s all to do with people and their struggles and everything. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself over this thing, over COVID, and then I realized that there’s much more to life than just that.

“Bonding with an animal that was in need and sharing these needs together, sitting there on the front porch, watching this bird and Hank interact, showed me the blessings that are more than just monetary needs,” Wilson continued. “There’s a whole lot more to this world, than just monetary needs. And, man, I feel just so much better from that experience.”