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"Piebald Patience"
by Ben Browning

One day in March 1999, I was driving in southern Wisconsin with a friend and we thought we saw a crow chasing a pigeon. The next thing we knew they both landed in a tree together. I thought it was a white crow but my friend did not, so we turned around to go find out. When they both flew over the road in front of us there was no mistaking what it was. We went on our way and told everyone about the white crow we saw. A lot of people did not believe us.

So one week later we went back to the same spot with a camera and a mouth call to see if he was still around. The reason we didn't go after him is I was waiting for one of my hunting buddies to get back into town from school. It was March and there was no snow on the ground. We spotted him and some other crows in a field eating. We pulled over, gave a call, and they all flew right over with the white crow leading the way. My buddy got a couple pictures for all the non believers.

During that week I called the DNR to see what they thought and asked if it was legal to shoot him. The DNR said it was legal, but he also said it sounded kind of rare and said he wouldn't shoot it. So of course next week we set out to get the "white crow". We went to the farmer and asked permission to hunt his land and he said "sure thing, thanks for asking". We all had a prior agreement no matter how many crows were in range nobody shoots until we see the white crow. We turned on the Johnny Stewart and played a mobbing crow tape over decoys including an owl. The white crow showed up first with two other crows and he was very aggressive. He came right over my head to check out the set and my first shot missed, then he started winging it across the sky and I missed a second time. By now he was getting way out there but I wasn't about to quit. We estimated he was 45-50 yards away by my third shot, which barely caught him. He went down lightly and we kept shooting at the other crows. After a couple of minutes my friend said "Hey look there goes your crow!". I had just winged him and he was hopping across a muddy field dragging a wing. I had to chase him for approximately a half mile. When I caught him he was very much alive. I was carrying him back to the truck when he got away from me and I had to chase him again, this time through the woods. We ended it without losing a feather and now I have proof we were not seeing things. Later that spring I saw a crow with two or three white primary wing feathers and stopped to take pictures of him but that was in town so I didn't get a chance to add him to the collection.

Some people were really upset with me when I showed off the pictures, so now I am more careful who I show them to. Maybe I will make your hate mail list. Is it odd to see the same crow in the same field three weeks in a row? This makes me wonder how far crows typically roam. The taxidermist was very impressed. After I got him, my friend ran into some locals who had seen the bird alive and said they would be mad if anyone shot him, so we kept it quiet. The Audubon Society said they never heard of such a bird, so I was wondering what something like this would be worth to a collector or museum. You know I had to get him mounted!!

Copyright (c) 1999. Crow Busters. All rights reserved.