Beginning in the spring we have a lot of birds in our yard. My wife keeps the bird bath clean for them. The cardinals have the bath they prefer to use, while the other birds use the community bath. There are robins, sparrows, doves, starlings, cardinals and blackbirds. We bought peanuts for ourselves and threw a few to the birds because it seemed the friendly thing to do.
While other birds didn’t pay much attention, one black bird in particular loved the peanuts. After just a few days it was apparent that easy to grab, fresh, free peanuts got to be a habit for this black bird. Soon he’d come around everyday at the same spot on the fence to wait for a tasty peanut. Only a short while later we had named him Blackie, our favorite bird.
It would have been nice to have a colorful cardinal, or even a blue jay as a favorite, but the other birds remained aloof. The best we could attract was our new feathered pal, the solo blackbird.
That summer a large variety and number of birds came and went through our yard, but only Blackie was a regular that we could identify. The robins had children and hung around teaching them to dig for worms, and the doves walked around in pairs. But, Blackie made a noise to attract our attention. Sometimes he'd start at the opposite side of the house. We'd be outside doing other things when we'd hear his squawk. We'd yell, "Blackie", run into the house for a peanut, and he would fly around the house to take his position on the fence and wait for us to come out on the porch. We talked to him and he would fly in for his peanut.
In the fall, most birds migrate south for the winter. Only the illusive cardinals stay year round.
One day The following summer, when my wife was working on the side of the house she heard a black bird squawk. She looked up and said, “Blackie, is that you?” It was. She went around to the other side of the house where we used to feed him and he followed, and took up his usual position at a particular spot on our fence and waited for his peanut.
After the usual bitter Ohio winter, the following spring came and my wife and I were happy to see the old, dark wanderer had returned. We enjoyed his visits for a second year. Through out the summer Blackie was a regular, and became friendlier and calmer with our presence.
The third summer Blackie returned again. Now he would fly to our back porch. I’d sit on a whicker chair and put a peanut on the small table. He’d hop onto it and take a peanut, then one or two more. Maybe an hour later he’d be back for more. Now we had a pet.
By the end of that summer he was taking peanuts from my hand, still a wild bird, but happy to play the routine of entertaining us for his peanut.
We got into the routine where most every morning Blackie would be there. We’d look out the window and see him on the fence, and as soon as we came out the old screen door with the peanuts, he’d fly over and take one from whoever got there first, my wife or me.
Many blackbirds were living in a wild area a mile south of our home. Each morning we'd see them fly over and head to the farmers corn field where they’d feast for the day, then return in the evening.
By the following year, the local corn farmers had complained sufficiently so that the city burned the wild area where the birds rousted. No longer did we have flocks of black birds passing over head. It seemed that Blackie had moved on with his friends.
May rushed by with no sign of him, we wondered if he died, relocated with the others, or went off to make a family. Then June came and he returned. This time he brought a younger bird with him. We called it Blackie Junior. This was the fourth year in a row for Blackie on our fence. The same spot, the same routine of squawking and waiting for his peanut. Unbelievable, four years in a row we had Blackie as a guest. We only saw him a few days that fourth year. His son never developed a taste for a peanut.
The fifth year there were even fewer birds around. May and June passed without a sign of him. Then at the end of July, when we had all but given up hope, he returned. It was a quick stop. He must have been living farther away, but he returned to make an appearance, did the squawks and the peanut grabbing routine, then flew back to the fence. We knew this was about the end of his visits. I swear, as he sat there on the fence for what we knew would be the final time, he looked back at us before he flew off. And that was the last visit we had from Blackie.
Though time has passed, we still talk about his visits and look for him, or son of Blackie, but now he is only a pleasant memory, yet we still keep our peanuts ready just in case.