WARNING: You may not want to read this…
It’s SO sad, but we knew he would soon die. I was so tearful at the time that only now can I write this little tribute to the resourceful old jackdaw who came to our garden in July.
My husband first noticed the injured jackdaw that was waddling around the yard and hiding behind plant pots, although at first we thought it was a crow or rook. On one occasion the bird stood behind him as he shooed away the brindled feral cat we feel sure inflicted its injuries.
From here on in you will blame me for not taking the bird to a vet, but we have no pets so know no vets. Anyway, we rationalised, the vet would surely just put the bird to sleep and we don’t really believe in euthanasia unless the creature is in great pain.
And I am afraid I anthropomorphised Jacko, as we came to call him, having initially just called him “the bird” in order not to become too attached. In my silly head I likened him to Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – you may also have read the books or seen the film.
Because Jacko seemed to be a survivor. He had found a safe place to hide at night – up a tree, to avoid those who would kill him…
Jacko never made a sound. He (if indeed he was male) occasionally seemed to sigh and I sensed a sadness that none of his friends and relatives came to visit him. Until now we had never seen a jackdaw in the garden, although we often hear and see them in streets 100 yards away.
Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) are small members of the crow family, so quite intelligent as birds go. They are easily recognised by their silvery heads and pale blue eyes.
With his damaged wings hanging down, Jacko reminded me of a lecturer in a black gown, or perhaps a judge, or maybe even Laurence Olivier or Antony Sher as a hunchbacked Richard III.
There were hopeful signs. Jacko ate heartily of bird peanut-suet block I crumbled on to the wall for him.
But there was one time when I found him sheltering on some steps with his head under his wing, as if he was giving up. I could touch him and he didn’t move. It wouldn’t be long now…
Then he rallied, so it was a surprise when his demise finally came, after he had been with us for about six days.
It was evening as I stood at the kitchen sink. I looked up and saw him through the window, bold as brass, standing in a most exposed place on the neighbour’s fence. Noooooo! What are you DOING? I later made up a story that he had just had enough and was holding his head high and saying OK cat, come and finish off what you began… and the cat needed no invitation.
I looked away. I looked back. He wasn’t there. I looked again. The brindled cat was there in the very spot on the fence where Jacko had been standing.
Next morning, after a miserable night’s sleep, I headed up into the wooded part of the garden to see if I could confirm the worst. I never got there. Near the bottom of the steps the cat had left Jacko’s poor dead body, eyes open and sightless. My tears welled up. They still do.
I laid Jacko to rest beneath the hydrangea…
I’m sorry that I felt I needed to share this with you. I don’t know if a vet could have or would have saved him.
By the way, these events happened around the time I was writing the blog post Never can say goodbye…