Talking crow Damien inspires Pauline to write her own book

Bird's Eye View: Author Pauline Roden
Bird's Eye View: Author Pauline Roden
Share this article

A talking crow called Damien is the unlikely inspiration for a Chorley author’s new book.

It was back in 1980 after a storm that the Roden family found the crow - who they called Damien - in a distressed state in Astley Park.

Keen animal lover Phillip Roden was just 15 when he found the stricken animal and feared the worst.

He had previously rescued many injured birds which had unfortunately usually ended up buried in the garden but on this occasion he was in for a shock.

Phillip said: “I couldn’t have been more wrong in my expectations.”

The family ‘adopted’ Damien, and remained with the family ‘on and off’ for over two-and-a-half years.

During that time mum Pauline Roden chronicled the amazing adventures of this remarkable bird and the result today is her book ‘Small Wings, Big Feet’.

Crows are renowned for their intelligence and Damien was certainly a prime example of this.

To say that the family never had a dull moment with their feathered friend is an understatement.

Throughout his stay with them, the Roden family always recognised that Damien was not a tame pet, but a wild bird who chose to live alongside them and their other family pets.

The Roden’s biggest concern was whether Damien could survive in the wild when he finally decided to go his own way or whether he had become oo ‘human’ and dependent on the family.

They need not have worried.

Damien set up home in Astley Park and on Devonshire Road Recreation Ground and made regular visits back to his ‘family’, but they became very concerned in 1987 when the local and national press published stories of the talking bird.

Such publicity could have brought unwelcome visitors to the site and danger to Damien. A couple of years ago Pauline attended a creative writing course and was persuaded to show her version of Damien’s adventures to other writers.

Despite being told by one critic that ‘it was too far-fetched to be true’, others liked the story and persuaded Pauline that it was well worth publishing.

‘Small Wings, Big Feet’ is a delightful story and a very heart-warming read.

It has a feel-good factor - just perfect to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

It has all the elements of a good family movie - animals, children, plenty of humour and a little poignancy.

All the illustrations are by Pauline herself and there are plenty of photographs to help visualise the anecdotes.

The book retails at £6 and is available from Pauline (

Copies may also be obtained by contacting the Guardian office at 32a Market Street, Chorley.