He was free to come and go, I didn't want him to feel trapped or unable to wander wherever his natural instincts took him. So sometimes he slipped through the gate and took a walk down the path behind the cottages to who knows where, and I wondered if I'd ever see him again, but then I'd look out later and, ah - there he was. He never went for long.
Strikingly pale eyes. Satin blue black back, smoky grey head. An adult jackdaw in the garden - nothing that unusual perhaps but, unfortunately, in spite of no signs of injured wings or legs, this one was unable to fly and he'd been quietly taking refuge here for two weeks.
I know I shouldn't let myself become so emotionally invested but I seem to be wired that way... worrying about cats and sparrowhawks and foxes getting to him, worrying that he'd starve, so I did my best to provide food and water and not to spook him when I was outside. There were places for him to hide and shelter, and he seemed to be doing ok given his fundamental weakness. He was too shy, and too fast on those two legs, to attempt catching for 'rehab' purposes - besides, I didn't want either of us to go through the trauma of trying. So my wish was that eventually he'd find the energy to stretch those shiny wings and take off to the treetops and chimney pots, and to be as free as a.... well, of course. Just as a jackdaw should be. In the meantime I knew he was vulnerable and prepared myself for a less happy outcome - but at least I'd know I tried my best.
All these thoughts of jackdaws had me searching for an appropriate song... and I was pleasantly surprised to find one. It also happens to be from an artist who has been much lauded over at Brian's place and his name is Martin Newell.
Our lovely blogging pal Brian over in Seattle is so much more familiar with Martin Newell's output than I'll ever be, so I really recommend reading up about him and having a listen to some tracks there. But I first came across the man as the vocalist with the band Gypp, a fairly local outfit who used to play various haunts in East Anglia in around '78/'79 including the one I frequented as a young teenager. I just have a memory of a skinny, very English and rather eccentric wild-haired guy in a hat and I think probably very little has changed in the interim and, although I don't remember much about how Gypp sounded at the time, listening to some of Martin's much later songs I can hear '60s influences, shades of Robyn Hitchcock and The Dukes Of Stratosphear. I was also interested to read about him and his later band The Cleaners From Venus (what a name) in the wonderful and highly recommended book 'Lost In Music' by Giles Smith (it's about time I read that again I think, and if you haven't, then why not?!) Blogger won't let me insert a youtube version of the Cleaners From Venus song I have in mind here - 'Jackdaw Days' - but I found it on the Bandcamp page so here's a link:
Sadly the jackdaw died this morning, but it was peacefully in the undergrowth, thankfully not savaged by a cat or sparrowhawk or fox. His last two weeks in the garden were hopefully pretty chilled with food, water, shelter, lots of bird company and this peculiar woman looking out for him. Inspecting him more closely as I went to put him in the ground today, I started to wonder if he simply died of old age.