Hazel returns home; the power of peanuts

August 01. 2014 7:21PM

IN OUR COLUMN on May 24, we wrote that “Hazel” was back! On June 1, 2013, Hazel, a not quite fledgling crow, was picked up, soaked with rain standing on a state highway in northern New Hampshire. A longtime reader took her home and kept her in a shed until she could fly. Then the shed door was left open so she could fly free at will. Hazel hung around outside the house and was fed all summer. She frequently came in the house for hamburg and scrambled eggs. In August, she took up with a flock of wild crows and later joined them for their winter trip.

Our reader’s letter, written on May 12, will be quoted in part and explain her activities so far this year. “When she didn’t return with the other crows this spring, I just knew something had happened with her and we were concerned that she may have been killed. On the morning of April 7, I had to go to town. When I came home, I looked up in the yard and thought my daughter was trying to fly. Her arms were flapping up and down. She said, ‘Hazel is back!’ Then added: ‘She lit on the telephone pole she always used to land on, then came down to get bread off the stump we had put out for the ravens.’

“My daughter went to the refrigerator for more food. She did get Hazel to come in and take some. Hazel was skittish but within two dyas she would land on my daughter’s arm. I had a beard that I did not have last year and she wouldn’t come very close. After I shaved off the beard and had taken a couple of walks with her, she landed on my arm and was right back to being Hazel.

“Hazel gets here at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and starts yakking. My daughter opens her bedroom window and Hazel comes right in. When Hazel first returned in April her nose was running and she had a cough. We talked with a knowledgeable bird person and was told the crow needed medication and should be weighed. She weighed 1 pound. We treated her twice a day for a week and she is fine now.

“Hazel shows no sign of wanting to nest. Maybe they don’t in their first year. We have a real good time with her — she’s a lot of fun and makes a lot of different noises. She fluffs up and looks twice her size when she takes a bath.

“I would like to know where she was during her six-month absence. I never thought we would see her again.”

Peanut preference

Also, in our column on May 24, we included a letter from a reader who described the different wildlife that enjoy peanuts. A gentleman who lives in Mason also wrote about peanuts as being attractive to wildlife. His letter read in part: “I enjoy very much reading you in the ‘Union Leader Saturday Features.’ I also purchased your book, ‘Stacey Cole’s New Hampshire,’ which I read every night before retiring.

“We moved to New Hampshire about seven years ago. We bought 4.5 acres of land where we built a small home and a barn. My wife has a white Arabian Wizard and a brown Morgan Grace, and we have four chickens, two dogs and a cat.

“I love all the wildlife around here. My friend who helps around here places a peanut on the fence each morning and the crows love it. It’s fun watching them hop along the fence and snatch the nuts. He also tosses a handful on top of a run that crows, blue jays and other birds come to.“I saw a small nuthatch one day flying along with a big peanut in his mouth. I was wondering how this was possible as the nut was nearly as big as him until one day I saw him land on the fence, peck a hole in the peanut, then fly off with the nut. Very smart little bird!“The chipmunks also love peanuts. When we tossed them peanuts, it was fun watching them put them in their cheeks and scurry back home. We had one chipmunk that would come when we called ‘Chip’ and he would let us feed him by hand.

“We go through peanuts, as it seems to be a snack of choice by both birds and animals. We had some wild turkeys come through the yard. We would toss them some cracked corn, which they would peck at, but when the peanuts came out, stop everything! We had one of the toms eating out of our hand. They would even recognize my friend’s truck when he pulled in in the morning. They would come hobbling up for some peanuts. Strange thing, when we got this last snowstorm, the turkeys vanished. Where do they go? A couple of weeks ago, about seven of them returned. Not sure if they were the same ones as before. This time the hens would come up close for the peanuts but the tom stayed back.”

During a storm, wild turkeys spend more daylight hours roosting in trees for protection. With respect to their later appearance, when the hens would take peanuts, but the tom would not, it appears “love” was in the air. The tom’s mind was only interested in increasing a future population.


Stacey Cole’s address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey, NH 03446. “Stacey Cole’s New Hampshire: A Lyrical Landscape” is available at Amazon.com.ooks.

New HampshireOutdoorsNature Talks

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