A stranger’s cruelty — UPDATED

Shawn Filipchuk cradle a young raven that wandered onto Douglas Street where she says a young driver went out of his way to hit the injured animal. Her five-year-old daughter witnessed the brutal assault on the bird and was very upset by it. Click on the image to see larger version of it. David F. Rooney photo

By Shawn Filipchuk

The strangest thing happen last night as we played outside with our two children (ages three and five).

A young raven dropped into our backyard. Literally fell from the sky.

It appeared to be injured and with our children watching, we tried to think of what we could do to help him. I grew up in a house with a mom who helped many injured birds get healthy again and return to their lives in the wild so it felt normal for us to want help.

We’ve taught our children that animals are gifts from Mother Nature and we’re to respect them at all times and we thought this a learning opportunity for them, and for us. So, we watched the raven as he squawked and hopped around, lost and decided that it was best for us to do nothing. He was mobile (on two legs, not two wings), he was vocal and he was visibly terrified. Why cause more stress for him than was needed?

He hopped around us, and took a path (I’m sure he was heading towards the other ravens that were calling to him from across the road) between our house and our neighbour’s house. My oldest daughter and I went up the other side of the house to see just where he was heading and to make sure he got there safely. I made a quick pit-stop in the house to grab a towel (thanks, Mom, for that lesson) in case the bird took a turn for the worse and was unable to continue on his way.

And in that time, my daughter stood on the grass by the sidewalk and watched the raven cross the road. Or try. Because as she stood there, some morbid idiot decided that his license to drive gave him a license to kill.

More than 20 ravens perched on these trees across the street from Filipchuk's home, calling out to the injured bird. David F. Rooney photo

And in her tender eyes, she watched him swerve towards the middle of the road and hit that poor, defenceless raven. Purposely swerve. I saw it too, but was not yet out of the carport and down the driveway. I was too far away to shield her eyes from such wickedness. I watched that idiot and his friends drive down the road (in a small, compact green/blue car for those that are keeping track and when you see them, let them know that one of their tail lights are burned out) and my daughter’s sad face. A cyclist came over and said she heard them laughing as they drove down the hill.

Laughing. I guess they felt tough in that hunk of metal driving over that poor raven.

I sure didn’t feel tough, trying to explain it to my daughter while I wrapped the raven in my towel.

I carried the raven from the middle of the road into our yard, where I showed him to my daughter. I let her look at him up close — how his feathers lay shiny and flat on his head, how his beak was long and sharp and how his round eyes gazed at us, confused and scared — because he was still alive! At least for then. He was injured and suffering. She could not understand why someone hit that poor raven. And I told my daughter that he was hurt and that someone did a terrible thing to him and, when she asked, that he was probably going to die.

I am a realist. Things live, things die. It’s the circle of life. Mother Nature (or God, or whatever we choose to believe in) says that things live and things die and we’ve taught our children that lesson. But it was the first time I had to teach her that sometimes people kill things. And I hated it. And I hated that someone would be so disrespectful to a living creature and cared so little about my daughter standing on the sidewalk, watching him run over that bird.

She asked me what would happen to the raven and I told her that we would hold him safe and warm in that towel until he died and he would die with someone who cared about him. That he would not hurt anymore. We held him, we talked softly to him, we cared about him.

Finally, Filipchuk decided to release the raven into the woods across the street from her home. Nature would — one way or another — take its course. Please click on the image to see a larger version of it. David F. Rooney photo

But that raven had his own plan. He started to move. And move more. And then he started to open his eyes again, and he was no longer just a limp bird wrapped in a towel. He was a raven who clearly was not ready to die in my arms. It scared the jeepers out of my daughter, too, because he became a very vocal raven. However, despite her fear, she was happy to see the life in him again. So, I told her that it was time that raven went to be with his family. And I knew it was to either live or die, but he was meant to be with his family. And I took him to the foot of the trees where the other ravens had gathered and put him in the tall grass to live or die on his terms — not on the terms of the idiots in the car — the terms of nature.


Karsyn and I went to check on him last night and it appears as though he got himself back on the road (maybe) at some point.  He was lying on the side of the road — quite dead — and his beak was pretty smashed up.  Either another car got him or he met his demise falling from the sky.  We tried. Nature takes its path and hopefully I get the good-raven-ju-ju and not the raven-stalking-ju-ju!

Shawn Filipchuk is a videographer with RCTV