“Once upon a time, in a land where the wild meadows thrived and the trees grew tall, there lived a black crow named Outlaw, a name given to him because he liked to steal pretty objects and his favorite, any kind of food. Outlaw was different from ordinary crows, because Outlaw had one black eye and one gold eye.
One fine morning, just before the sun came up Outlaw woke from his sleep, stretched his wings and looked over at his mother’s nest. She had left to gather food for the new nestlings. A couple of aunts stayed nearby to keep an eye on the baby birds. Several older brothers and sisters were awake too. Several were talking, while two stood lookout for larger birds, such as a hawk or eagle, which might take the nestlings.
Outlaw didn’t sleep in his mother’s nest anymore but still wanted to stay near, because it liked the top of a large oak tree where he had a great view. He could look everywhere, up, down, and all around and could see things that were moving or not. His tree stood among other trees in the woodland and as a crow would fly, not far from a village.
Outlaw began to trim his black feathers until satisfied that they glistened with beauty. He was very proud of his shiny feathers and his lovely fan-shaped tail. Noticing that some sticks had come loose from his mother’s nest, he repaired them before heading out for his usual search for food. He also planned on meeting up with his bird-friend Flapjack, a young steller blue jay that lived in the nearby conifer trees.
They were an unlikely pair, but because they were cousins and they both enjoyed doing the same activities, they became friends. Flapjack got his name because of the funny way he flapped his wings when he was a fledgling.
Before Outlaw left the tree, he called out to the other crows with a goodbye. “Caw, Caw, I’m leaving.” He stretched his wings and leapt into the air, catching his wings in the breeze that lifted him into the sky.
“Ah,” he warbled. It felt good to take to the sky and have the wind carry him above the forest floor and even with the treetops. He soared up, he soared to the right, and occasionally he stopped flapping his wings and glided along with the air current. The wind was in his face and it felt good because it helped to wake him up.
Outlaw viewed the green of the meadows and forests, the silver of the river, and the white fluffy clouds in the blue sky with the bright rising above the hills. Outlaw said to himself, this is great! I am so happy to be alive and free to go wherever I want. I am a lucky crow indeed!
Like other young crows, Outlaw did not pay much attention to time, and had forgotten his morning plans, but hunger pains finally reminded him what he was supposed to be doing. He looked around to see where he was and where he wanted to go. He remembered that Flapjack had said the day before that they would meet at the conifer tree near the village. Therefore, he turned around, by tilting inwards with his left wing slightly down and his right wing up and banked sharply to the left, and headed towards the distant village. Along the way, he stopped several times to snatch up grubs hiding in the ground, a few insects, and some acorn nuts.
As he approached the tree, he saw Flapjack sitting on an outer branch about midway up. His bright color gave his location away. He had a rich blue lower body with a sooty black head and upper body with a triangle shaped crest on top of his head. Flapjack was busy squawking in between pecking seeds out of the cones sounding very nosy with his harsh voice, “shek, shek, shek,” and even “wah, wah, wah.”
Outlaw decided to play a trick on Flapjack. He could mimic other birdcalls, so he called out with a jay call, “Shek, shek, shek.” Flapjack jumped because it resembled an older brother who enjoyed picking on him. He looked toward the sound and saw that it was only his friend, Outlaw.
With a sigh of relief, he said, “Wow, you sound exactly like Sooty! I’m glad it wasn’t he because I thought for sure I was in trouble.” He stopped to eat a seed, and then said, “I hope you know that wasn’t nice, you could have caused me to fall!”
Outlaw laughed and said, “Yeah, right, just be glad I didn’t make the call of a red-tailed hawk, my friend. I didn’t want to scare you to death; I only wanted to get your attention. I guess it worked because I got you to jump!” Outlaw continued to laugh.
Putting down the cone, Flapjack asked, “So what shall we do today? Do you want to see what food we can steal from the humans or get back what the squirrels took from us?”
Outlaw thought for a moment and then answered. “I think it would be fun to check out the village and see what they have.”
Both birds took off and began flying over the village looking for a treat. Their first chance came when they noticed that someone was feeding a chipmunk. The chipmunk had retreated to eat the food, just as Flapjack landed nearby. Flapjack really wanted that tasty treat so while Outlook sat in a tree, Flapjack proceeded to peck the little critter on the head hoping he would give up and flee, but to Flapjack’s dismay the determined little chipmunk would not give up his food nor would he run away until the treat was gone. In disgust, Flapjack flew up into the air with Outlook following along behind him. Outlaw soon caught up, passed by Flapjack, and faced the wind again.
The second chance came when they noticed that someone had left some fruit and nuts outside in a small basket. Making sure the human was not around, they swooped down and picked through the food very carefully until each found some fruit to nibble on, and then they also found some peanuts.
Concerned that the human might come back, Outlaw grabbed a peanut in his bill and Flapjack stuffed several into a pouch in his throat. Flying to a nearby clearing, they landed and whacked a rock with the peanuts. Forming a crack in the shell, Flapjack and Outlaw began stabbing and tearing into it with their bills. It didn’t take long before they enjoyed their tasty morsels.
After finishing the nuts, they noticed a squirrel in a tree. Rising into the air, they flew in the squirrel’s direction. They looked at each other and came up with the same idea at the very same instant. With a look of glee and agreement, they began to dive-bomb the squirrel repeatedly just for the sake of having a little fun. After awhile, they became bored and decided to give the squirrel a little mercy. They rose higher, and headed for the river, with Flapjack in the lead. His broad, rounded wings helped him fly in a graceful almost lazy flight. Outlaw flew along with an eye out for any of their enemies.
While in flight, Outlaw saw something sparkle far below on the ground, so he descended to check it out. Flapjack saw him swoop down and turned to descend behind the bird. Outlaw landed a few feet from the target and bobbed his head while strutting towards the object. With his bill, he moved the item to see if it was alive. He then peered at it and noticed it reflected light from the sun.
He then said to himself, Hm, this might be useful. I think I’ll take it back to my stash. He grabbed the silver object in his bill and they again took off in flight toward the forest near his oak tree.
As they flew near a small stand of trees, they noticed a flurry of movement and a lot of cawing coming from one tree. A group— also known as a murder— of unknown crows was dive-bombing what resembled a crow, yet was not like the others. His color was different. He had white feathers! Therefore, the other birds considered him unlikable. Outlaw could sympathize with the bird, because they had something in common. They were both different from the others.
Both birds did not care for the unfairness against the bird and decided to help. Therefore, with a nod, Flapjack began to mimic the crow distress call of, “Caw-Caw-Caw.”
Outlaw joined in and once they got the crows attention, Flapjack began the hoarse, raspy call of the red-tailed hawk. It began as a high-pitched scream descending downward. “Kree-eee-ar.”
Outlaw understood what he was doing and joined in on the second round. “Kree-eee-ar” This was a sound that all birds understood. This was a fierce enemy.
The group of birds became so startled that they scattered in all directions. Outlaw and Flapjack landed near the attacked bird and began laughing hilariously, not at the bird, but at the other crows. They checked out the bird to make certain that he was okay. With a nod of thanks, the bird warbled a thank you and flew off for parts unknown, while Flapjack and Outlaw descended to the forest floor. Outlaw released the shiny object from his claw so they could search for insects and grubs to round out their diet.
Flapjack felt pleased, “Oh my, saving that strange looking fellow felt good! All in a day’s work, I guess! That rescue mission makes me want to rescue someone else. What do you think, Outlaw?” Flapjack buried his peanut, quickly found a bug and gobbled it up.
Outlaw thought for a moment as he swallowed a grub, and then replied, “Usually I don’t get involved, but I must admit it felt good scaring those bullies. You know, we were being somewhat like bullies back there with that squirrel and that chipmunk! Although, I can’t begin to count the number of times those varmints have taken my stash of nuts and seeds!”
Outlaw trimmed a feather, while considering Flapjack’s request and then continued, “This might hurt my reputation, but if you really want to rescue someone else, I’ll go along with you.”
Both birds took off in flight and each had the same thought. Where does one go to search for someone who needs rescuing? Outlaw suddenly remembered the shiny object he was holding, so they headed to a tree near his home that had a small hollow high up on the trunk. After he deposited his treasure, they took off to fly in a circle around the edge of the large field. Not finding anyone to rescue, their flight continued past a stand of trees in a different meadow in hopes of having better luck.
Just when they were beginning to lose hope of finding anyone to rescue, they looked down and saw a wild rabbit in a live-trap, set by a hunter. They swooped down to get a closer look and noticed that the rabbit was alive, but very scared.
Outlaw was the first to speak to the rabbit. “Are you all right or hurt?”
The rabbit trembled, and then looked at the birds and answered very meekly, “No, I don’t think I’m hurt.”
Outlaw continued with another question, “How long have you been here?”
The rabbit was a timid rabbit and was very scared of the cage and of the birds. She finally managed to get out a few words. “I don’t know, for a while, I guess.”
Flapjack asked the third question. “Do you wish to be rescued?” He waited for the rabbit to answer as he paced back and forth keeping an eye on the forest.
“Oh my, yes please. Can you really rescue me?” asked the frightened rabbit. She had lost hope of seeing her family ever again. At least now, she knew there was a chance.
Outlaw began to strut around the outside of the cage. He stopped when he got to one side and peered very closely at the cage to see how it opened. He then jumped to the top and looked down at the door on one side. After much thought, he said aloud, “I have just the tool that will open this cage, but I must fly back to get it. Will you be all right until I get back?”
The rabbit looked around to see if the hunter was returning and then said, “I sure hope I’ll be okay. Maybe you should hurry. Can one of you stay with me just in case?”
Flapjack looked at the scared rabbit and then said, “I will stay with you. If the hunter comes back, I’ll dive-bomb him and peck on the top of his head. Will that do?”
“Oh yes, I think that just might work!” said the rabbit with a sense of hope.
Outlaw rose into the sky and flapped his wings extra hard in order to gain much speed as he traveled the distance to the tree where his stashed treasures were stored. He halfway knew what he was looking for, so searched in the hollow for just the right tool.
What he found was a piece of wire that had a bend on one end. Outlaw was pleased that he had remembered so well, and picked it up in his bill and flew back as fast as he could to his friend and the imprisoned rabbit. When he returned he began to tweak the wire a little more until it formed a functional hook. He then jumped to the top of the cage with the wire in his bill. He lowered the wire with the intention of catching the hook in the loop that was located at the top of the door that was holding the rabbit inside. He then tried to pull up with all of his strength, with no success.
After thinking, an idea came to him. He asked for Flapjack’s help. As Outlaw placed the hook in the loop and pulled up, Flapjack hopped up on the bar, using his weight to push down on the lever, thereby helping to release the other end of the bar, which was attached to the door. With both of them working as a team, they managed to make the door open and Flapjack squawked at the rabbit to turn around so he could exit or just back up through the open door before Outlaw lost his grip. The rabbit knew this was her only chance so she sucked in her breath, enabling herself to turn around, and quickly scampered out of the cage and hopped several feet away. The rabbit was so happy and relieved to be free once again. “I am free! Oh my, this is wonderful! How can I ever thank both of you?”
Outlaw looked at Flapjack as they considered the rabbit’s request.
Outlaw spoke up first. “We are glad to help you, but you are not safe just yet, you must return to your home at once. The hunter could show up any minute. We will continue to watch over you and defend you, if needed. Once we safely see you home and if you still want to thank us, you could share some of your food with us. That would be thanks enough.”
The rabbit gave Outlook an odd look and then said, “How peculiar you are, bird, but if you truly wish to try a rabbit meal, I would be glad to share my food with both of you. However, I must ask one question. Do you know what we rabbits eat?”
Outlaw tilted his head curiously and answered with a question of his own. “I guess I would have to say no. What do rabbits eat?
“If I may explain, dear Mr. Crow, rabbits eat a lot of grass, many flowers, and leafy weeds along with a lot of our digested pellets. Does that sound all right to you?” replied the rabbit.
Outlaw shook his head with disgust, as he thought of eating such strange food. He wondered to himself, how could a rabbit live on that? He then answered, “Thank you rabbit, but we’re not very hungry right now.”
It was then that Flapjack noticed movement at the edge of the woods. It was the hunter and he was carrying a couple of cages. Flapjack motioned for the rabbit to seek cover quickly and then scamper away as fast as she could, while they got the human’s attention.
They lifted off the ground and headed in the man’s direction, screeching out with, “Caw-caw-caw,” and “wacka-wacka-wacka.” As they approached the man, they descended and swooped over his head, flying up, and then swooping down repeatedly. This kept the hunter distracted. When they felt that enough time had passed, they landed in a nearby tree and watched the human until they were sure that the rabbit had gotten away.
The man looked upset when he saw that the door was open and his prize had gotten away. He sullenly grabbed the cage, hooked it to the twine with the other cages, slung it over his shoulder and headed home with head hung low.
Outlaw turned to Flapjack and said, “That was cool, thanks for coming up with the rescue idea Flapjack, it was kind of fun figuring out how to open the cage and set the rabbit free. I don’t want to think what might have happened if we hadn’t shown up. You know, maybe we’ll have to do that again sometime.”
Flapjack made a funny sound, “Wah-wah,” and then laughed. “I think you just never knew until now how to have the good kind of fun. Don’t get me wrong, because I really enjoy teaching a lesson to the critters that steal our food, but maybe we can agree to try to rescue someone every day, What do you think?.”
Outlaw sounded out. “Caw, caw,” then strutted on the branch, and then answered. “Yes that sounds good, but right now maybe we can get something to eat because I’m very hungry. Then we can check out some of the squirrels stash. What do you say?”
“Good idea, Outlaw! That’s why I like you so much. You and I have a lot in common and similar thinking.”
Flapjack flew off with his graceful wings spread, followed by Outlaw the crow with the different colored eyes! Outlaw caught up and began flying ahead of the stellar jay feeling glad to be alive and able to fly free as a bird.