This last few weeks - and probably for a lot longer - two Jackdaws have been raising a chick on the roof of our house. This morning, taking to a shady place at the top of the garden to escape the sun, I saw there were three of them up there. The chick had gotten big and was waving its wings about, making a hell of a lot of noise as it got ready to take its first flight. It’s a long way down from the roof. I know because I’ve been up there.
Anyway, by the time we got to lunch, they were gone.
No fear. It’s just what you do when you’re a bird chick. You don't think about it because you have no choice. If you want to survive, you need to fly.
That old rogue, Mr Aesop, painted the Jackdaw as a stupid bird in his fables who starved to death hoping the figs would ripen, prompting the fox to point out that ‘hope feeds illusions and not the stomach’.
That fox knew what he was talking about.
Except Jackdaws are not stupid at all. They’re one of the only birds that communicate with their eyes and therefore are acutely aware that this is what we do too... so it's (relatively) easy to form a bond with a Jackdaw. If you put food out for them and look at the bird, then the food, they will follow your eyes to see what you're looking at and given time, this breeds trust... though if you break that trust, they will steal all your belongings. TV, car, bicycle, guitars. Fact.
I learned this a long time ago and over the last few years of feeding them occasionally and leaving good nest building materials around in the Spring (aka: Hector's haircut trimmings, bits of my own hair) they've left me small pebbles as ‘gifts’ that all look vaguely the same. There have been dozens and I've kept them all.
Seagulls on the other hand... I’m not certain they’re smart in the slightest. Those guys had been nesting on a roof a few houses up and also have a chick. At 5am, you’ll know all about this because of the unholy racket coming in through the window.
But this morning, there was no chick. A little detective work revealed it was no longer on the roof… it had got itself stuck behind the summerhouse (aka: recording studio/aka: shed) and tangled up in the bindweed that secretly grows there.
I've no idea how long it had been there but it couldn't stay. That would mean having to deal with a dead seagull in a few days. Much easier to tend to it alive - except, it didn't want to be tended to.
Not even a little bit.
It didn't want to be rescued so much that I had to enlist the assistance of my buddy Adrian down the street because he has Official Seagull Chick Rescuing Tools (aka: welders gloves and a blanket).
An hour or so later, the chick (actually, they're a little big to be called chicks - it's more likely called a fledgling but I can't be bothered to look it up) was safely out from behind the shed, delivered into the relative freedom of the path that runs at the back of our houses.
What did it do?
It ran - RAN - into the nearest bush 100 yards away like the unappreciative dumbass it is, but we decided to leave it alone at that point. If you had been pulled from your hiding place by Adrian wearing welders gloves, you would be scared too.
As I write this, it's about 11pm - if it hasn't gone back to its family by now, that fox I mentioned earlier will probably have some wise words to say to it in out there - and they probably won't be about figs.