Jo Ann Jaacks: Bird on a wire

Feather collection

I now have a “pet” black bird. He/she could be a crow or a raven, and appears to live in the large tree in my backyard. I call him Black Bird; not very imaginative, but he/she seems to respond to the name.

A friend who has an infinity with wild birds, especially red hawks, recommended throwing some corn chips on the lawn each morning. The first time I leaned over the balcony and tossed down some corn chips, I felt kind of silly. Corn chips are large and crunchy, not exactly bird seed. Almost immediately, as though waiting for me, Black Bird swooped down, put a chip in his beak, then flew up to the roof of the next- door house. I soon realized he was swishing the corn chip around in the gutter, the easier to eat it.

I’m an early bird myself, so at break of dawn for several mornings, I repeated the ritual. Then a squirrel came scampering over and tried to filch one of the chips. Suddenly, there were three black birds of varying sizes divebombing the hapless rodent. The squirrel never returned but there was a black bear once passing through. He seemed more interested in garbage bins, but Black Bird waited until the bear left, wisely choosing his battles.

After a week of tossing down corn chips, while I was watering my flowers on the balcony, I noticed a small shadow above me. I looked up to see my pet clinging to the phone wires. I waved and greeted him and he seemed to be listening. When I started up my car a few minutes later, he landed just in front of my parking spot, and began walking towards me. I got out of the car and waved goodbye.

I know that black birds are very intelligent, fun-loving, and like shiny objects. My friend said that it’s possible Black Bird will leave me a shiny thank-you token. I just hope it’s not someone’s diamond ring. Besides, I already got what I wanted – a black feather to add to my collection.

According to Wikipedia: “In the 1960s, Leonard Cohen lived on the Greek island of Hydra with his girlfriend Marianne Ihlen, the woman depicted on the back cover of Songs from a Room. She has related how she helped him out of a depression by handing him his guitar, whereupon he began composing “Bird on the Wire,” inspired by a bird sitting on one of Hydra's recently installed phone wires, followed by memories of wet island nights. He finished it in a Hollywood motel.”

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