The Jackdaw

Many years ago, my Dad used to walk the dog, a lemon Labrador named Jason, every morning in Windsor Great Park. Most mornings, Jason would chase the odd squirrel, or just run after sticks. One morning he found a baby Jackdaw with a broken wing; the bird was alive but would not be for much longer, so Dad took it home, set its wing, and fed it warm milk mashed into bread and hard-boiled egg. To his and Mum’s great surprise, the jackdaw thrived, grew stronger and bigger every day. He was very friendly, even towards me although I was only home at weekends from college. Jacko (my parents were not very imaginative when it came to naming animals!) would sit on Dad’s shoulder while he worked in the shed-cum-office, kept Dad company when he was digging in the garden (hoping for a worm to appear no doubt), and hopped into the kitchen to beg scraps from Mum. He was a thorough house-bird, and came and went through the patio doors at will. At night he slept in the aviary in the back garden, with zebra finches and lovebirds; by day, he came and went where he pleased.

His broken wing had mended well; after a few months he took to flying up onto the shed roof and then swooping down onto the lawn; if I happened to be sunbathing on the lawn, I was targetted! Jacko was very chatty, into everything, curious and very intelligent. He got to be quite famous, and had his picture (sitting on Dad’s shoulder, of course) in the local newspaper.

One day, when he must have been nearly a year old, he disappeared for some hours. He flew off to survey the surrounding area, but returned before nightfall, and hopped back into the aviary. These sorties became more frequent, and he stayed away for longer each time, until eventually he did not return one evening at all. Mum and Dad worried that he had been caught by a cat, or hit by a car; they worried that they had made him too tame, and that he could not fend for himself in the wild. Jacko returned a few days later, still full of beans, and eager to be fed. One day, he flew off in the morning and did not come back for a week or more, but when he did he brought another Jackdaw with him, a female. She was not prepared to come down onto the lawn like Jacko; she stayed on the shed roof but she ate the food Mum threw up there for her. Jacko was still as friendly as ever, sat on Dad’s shoulder and fed from his hand. Eventually, the two jackdaws flew off, probably to the Great Park where there was a colony of jackdaws. They visited several times more that year, sometimes Jacko came on his own, sometimes he brought several others with him, but eventually he did not return, and although flocks of jackdaws would fly over the house and garden from time to time, none showed any special interest in Mum and Dad’s garden.

It seems that Jacko had been successfully integrated into the wild after living with humans for over a year. Perhaps his great grandchildren still fly over the house and garden before swooping back to roost in the Park.

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One response to “The Jackdaw

  1. Pingback: An Ordinary Man | Things my grandma taught me

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