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I have often written about my joy as each new day dawns but, about ten years ago, something happened that was to improve what I already thought of as an idyllic life. She was young, black, and quite unique and, in my way, I was to come to adore the daily company of this fascinating female. She was the one whose intelligence and bravery was to amaze me as I approached the winter of my life. At this stage I should explain that this new source of daily joy to our household was a feathered friend, a Blackbird.
Early every morning when I gazed out of our kitchen window I'd see twenty or so birds waiting for me, the seed man, to arrive. Daily, my appearance meant they'd all fly off in different directions, as if a sparrow hawk was about to claim one of them for breakfast and I'd sigh, surely they could work out I was their friend. That mass exodus is almost what happened on what was to become a very special morning. As usual, all the birds in a state of near panic flew away with one exception, for one single bird, a female blackbird I'd never seen before remained. Seemingly unafraid of my presence, this bird continued to feast on the food I'd scattered, even though I was very close to her. I was able to see, as she carefully kept one watchful eye om me, that the bird had a slightly deformed and discoloured beak. That was how we were always able to differentiate between her and the several other female blackbirds that frequented our garden regularly in the years to come. Later that day, I told Jenny, my wife, of this trusting creature, little did we know the beautiful part she was to play in our lives in the several wonderful years that were to follow.
That very day Jenny and I named this new addition to our household, 'Bessie,' but we weren't sure if we'd ever se her again. Of course we did, the very next day and several times a day thereafter for the next four years. She'd arrive with a peculiar little squawk and come to rest at our feet whenever she was hungry. She no longer waited for the mass feeding times like the other birds but she'd search me out when hunger told her to. She soon discovered the spot in our garage/shed where I'd placed a chair next to the various bird foods drawer. In it I had several bags, each containing foodstuffs like Sunflower hearts, Nyjer seeds, Peanuts, Mealworms and a large mixed bag of other wild bird seeds. Bessie soon discovered a small hole in the bottom of the door to the garage/shed where she could enter, run up to the seated me and, with that now familiar squawk, stare up at me pleadingly with a tilt to her head. I'd then scatter a selection of the various seeds at my feet and she'd feast, safely away from the other bird rabble to her hearts content. This continued until the time I noticed her getting fat and then to our concern she ceased to visit. I was worried until Jenny suggested she may be pregnant and of course she was, nesting with the help of a mate in some cosy hidden spot.
I was elated when the time came when nature informed Bessie she could briefly leave her fledgling's safely in their nest. I was seated on my garage seat, preparing to feed the other birds when I heard the Bessie squawk of greeting and there she was, looking sleek and to my eyes quite beautiful. I scattered the usual mix of foodstuffs at my feet but she was only interested in the mealworms for her new born babes. Watching her carefully pick them up, I counted fifteen in her beak, she then gave that squawk and flew out of the open door, going back whence she came to her nest. Four minutes later she was back with a repeat order and so it continued. I had no idea how many other birds were in nests within the vicinity of our garden but I'd had bet good money on the fact that none of them had mothers like our Bessie. Spring turned to summer and that year, and for the few years that followed, Bessie's offspring grew up in and around our garden. Whilst they and the other birds always kept their distance, their mother could often be found sitting on a garden fence with me, with her devouring whatever birdie treat I offered from a bag I carried with me just for her.
Time passed as did the years and, sadly, I was well aware that blackbirds time on this planet, just like ours, is limited. To sum up how special our dual relationship was with Bessie, and by dual I mean both Jenny and I, I must go back to a time when my son Morgan lived and worked in Austria. He was visiting us for a short holiday and one morning, whilst relaxing on the lounge couch, he spoke to me across the room in hushed astonishment the following sntennce. "Don't move dad, but a blackbirds just walked up the hallway!" My nonchalant, matter of fact words, "Oh that's just Bessie," I really enjoyed saying. I then went on to explain how we had acquired, by pure luck, the most unique and trusting pet in the country. Those years we shared are something I'll always be grateful for and although we were sad when Bessie finally ceased to be part of our lives, we all felt blessed that for some unknown reason, this wild bird put her complete trust in two human beings, one called Ken and the other called Jenny!
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