A man nursed a baby crow back to health who now rules the roost - stealing food and BARKING at his dogs

·3-min read

A man who adopted an abandoned baby crow and nursed it back to health says it now rules the roost - stealing food and BARKING at his dogs. Lee Calvert, 46, found the tiny helpless rook on the pavement near his home and saved its life with round the clock care. The jet-black bird - named Russell Crow - loves nothing than nibbling Lee's ears and giving him a cuddle. But the bolshy bird certainly thinks it's boss - and often demands to take up its favourite perch on top of Lee's head. The unusual pet steals food from his plate, hides all the pens in the house and gets jealous when bulldogs Chunk and Yogi got close to Lee. Russell has a talent for impersonations and can bark at the two dogs - as well as mimic Lee's cough, police car sirens, duck quacks, magpie calls and even laughter. And while it was Lee who saved Russell last year, the boat builder said caring for the bird has kept him happy through lockdown. Lee, from Weymouth, Dorset, said: "We have a love-hate relationship, he sits on my head most of the time and leans over and pecks tops of my ear and makes them bleed - its a game to him! "He's always stealing things. He steals food from my plate, pebbles from fireplace, and I'm forever finding pens! "People call me Doctor Doolittle - I had to feed him every twenty minutes, morning 'til night! "I cradled him on my chest to keep him warm with his food next to me, "I had just been furloughed so I thought I'd got the time, might as well take him home. "If anyone touches me he'll bite them, he went for my mum the other day, and if the dogs come over he'll peck them on the nose!" Lee carried Russell home after he found him in March last year. He initially kept his nest on top his heated snake vivarium to keep Russell warm, but has since given the snake away as "I didn't want to push my luck!" At six months old, Lee started to realise Russell's talents in imitation. Single Lee said: "His first sound was dog barking- I was out but when I came back my neighbour said I thought your dogs were barking but he saw it was Russell! "He also thought I was in because he heard coughing but the car was gone!" Lee spends £20 each week on Russell's balanced diet of mealworms, lambs hearts, spinach, nuts and crushed vitamin tablets. "He eats better than me!" Lee said. He also spends over an hour a day cleaning Russell's cage - which is two large parrot cages joined together. "I'm forever cleaning up his poop, I've always got wet wipes out- I probably spend about £40 on wet wipes a week," he added. The pair are so attached that Russell immediately begins to cry when he leaves a room. Lee has always been drawn to birds, raising a magpie when he was ten years old, and last summer he raised and released eight sparrows rescued by his friends. Lee lives with his two bulldogs Chunk and Yogi, but cites Russell as what's keeping him going through these tough times. He said: "I suffer with my mental health but he gives me that responsibility, and looking after him takes up all my time not giving my brain time to overthink things."