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Mental Floss Magazine.
The World’s oldest crow died on this day in 1996 in Bearsville, New York at age 59! As a fledgling, he was blown out of his nest in 1947 and was seriously injured and never learned to fly. His name was “Tata”.
Tata, considered to be the world’s oldest crow, passed away gently in the arms of his caretaker, wildlife rehabilitator,Kristine Flones on Sunday morning, July 2nd, 2006.
Grandfather Tataji was born in Long Island in a Jewish Cemetery in May of 1947. Soon after his birth he fell from his nest during a violent thunderstorm. The cemetery caretaker took him to well-known animal lover and healer Julia Manetta to see if he could be saved. Under the loving care given by Mrs. Manetta, her husband Robert and their children Josephine and Gaetano, Tata recovered from the cold and from most of his injuries. However, he was never able to fly. His natural crow life was over. Instead he became a member of the Manetta family playing with the kids and with their family dog.
In 2001 Mr. Manetta was ill with cancer and a heart conditionand the family was in an emotional crisis. They began looking for a person to adopt Tata who was then 54 years old. Somehow, through wildlife rehabilitation circles they found Kristine Flones and Glenn Miller who took Tataji into their family.
Tata gained fame in 2002 when the DEC confiscated him along with Hohkmah, a red tail hawk because Kristine didn’t have her Federal bird license. The DEC law says that when Tata left his original family, where he was legally a pet, he reverted to being wildlife. Since he was blind with cataracts and couldn’t fly, by DEC law he would then have to be euthanized.The case went before a packed courthouse in front of Woodstock Judge Frank Engel, who was able to secure a release for Tata. After six weeks of incarceration Tata was returned to Kristine and Glenn on February 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The case was much publicized in the Woodstock Times and other local papers with many outraged people writing letters to the editors. The writing staff at Kingston’s Daily Freeman at that time said that it was the strongest response they’d ever had to a story. Thereafter, the family received many calls inquiring after Tata and those loving calls for Tata from strangers have continued to the present time.
Tata is also given credit for bringing local wildlife rehabilitators together during the emergency of his situation. The result of that was the formation of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, a not-for-profit center for rehabilitation of wildlife.
During the last years Tata has held court from his magnificent donated cage in the bay window of the family dining room. He had his own personal call when he communicated with local crows along Wittenberg Road. Those calls were loud enough to be heard all over the neighborhood. Bella voce!
In the Spring of 2006, I could see that Tataji was at the end of his life. He hadn’t molted his feathers that Spring, and there was a fragility and weakness in Tata. The first day of July Tata’s legs gave out and I had to prop him up with some rolled up washcloths. I knew that this was his last day. Many prayers were said and I stayed nearby that day. The photo above where I am wearing a sleeveless blouse, was taken on that day. Tata and I were having our last morning meditation together and Glenn snapped the photo. Tata was stroking my arm with his beak. Our Buddha Crow lived through the night and died gently and peacefully in my arms on the morning of July 2, 2006.
Because Tata had such a following in our area after the newspapers published the story of his incarceration by the DEC years before, we notified the local newspapers. The Daily Freeman and the Woodstock Times published his obituary and people were invited to his Memorial Service. Somehow, the news of Tata’s death was picked up by United Press International, and our dear Buddha Crow went international. The news of the death of the world’s oldest crow made all the network news stations and appeared in newspapers in every continent. Many were doubtful that he was 59 years old, but, our Tata had notarized papers regarding his birth in 1947! He remains, I believe, the oldest crow.
For his funeral Josephine and Gaetano Manetta joined our family and a group of Tata and crow lovers for a quiet service honoring this crow who showed us all the way to bliss, wisdom and true Presence.
Judge Franklyn Engel later told me that after he ruled that Tata’s case would be decided in his chambers, crows started to visit him at work and at home, calling and cheering him on from the trees. Coincidentally, members of Engel’s own family are buried in the cemetery where Tata was found as a baby.
Tataji has shown the people around him what true heart is. He lived completely in the moment, accepting what was. He was able to communicate this love to anyone who would spend a few quiet moments with him. They would soon find themselves swooning with love or with tears rolling down their cheeks and the room would be filled with the palpable energy of intense and pure love. He was a bodhisattva among us.