I had been feeding the blackbird with the crumpled beak for the last few months, not realizing at first that he couldn’t eat properly. I just wondered why he hadn’t snatched up the peanuts I’d been putting out for him. They were left for other birds - plus the occasional mouse that scampered to scoop one up before racing back to his nest with his treasure.
I crumbled bread, crushed peanuts, and bought small seeds and mealworms to satisfy his and maybe his family’s hunger. He came regularly – a chirpy little chap making the best of his lot and his world. He would sit in the mock pear tree and sing his song. How lovely that was on a summer evening. With the sun still holdings its warmth, blue, clear sky, the smell of newly mown grass (my neighbour’s), a long cold drink in my hand and a blackbird’s song.
The days shortened and grew colder. Still, he came. Occasionally he would tap on the glass of the door. Come on, where are you? I want my breakfast, he seemed to say. “Okay. I’m coming, give me a chance. I can’t move around so quickly these days”. Always hoping that my neighbour couldn’t hear or see me talking to a blackbird.
Winter came and with it the snow. Falling for forty-eight hours a silent world was constructed. Not many people could get out. Our village was cut off. I ran out of seed and relied on bread, taken from my freezer and thawed, to keep my blackbird fed. I hoped his nest was in a safe, warm place.
I was out of action for a few days. I asked my husband, Colin, to feed my blackbird. “But they all look alike Sally. How do I know which one is yours?” Men.
“He has a crumpled bleak. He can only take tiny bits of food. Remember to crumble the bread and leave it outside the door.”
“Back or front?”
“Patio” I managed to tell, or rather yell, in between wafts of pain.
A week went by. “No sign of your bird, plenty of others,” my husband informed me. The snow began to thaw. I gingerly went outside calling to my blackbird. Was he okay? I heard a rustle. Was it him? Had he heard me calling?
I breathed a sigh of relief when he hopped out of the thick snow-laden bushes. He looked exactly the same. His black, shining, sleek feathers must mean that he had found food elsewhere that he could manage. He had adapted and survived the cold spell. He was a fighter. He put his head to one side.
He was waiting for me to feed him. I threw him some crumbs and went back into the warmth to pick up and cuddle my newly born son.
There would be operations in the future to correct his hare-lip. In the meantime, I knew, with certainty, that he would cope.
He would survive.
Every life – so precious.