In a Sow’s Ear 8-10-09
Duke the Crow thought he was a dog. He wasn’t. He was a little blackbird, the kind with feathers, claws and a beak. Duke adopted Brian’s family although he didn’t live in the people house or the doghouse. He slept in the backyard tree house. Duke loved attention from any of Brian’s family but was aloof with strangers.
If Brian decided to take a stroll to the mall, Duke went along, flying from tree to tree or roof top to roof top. Sometimes he’d swoop down and hitch a ride on Brian’s wrist. As soon as wrist-riding became tedious (after all, he was a bird and a bird’s gotta do what a bird’s gotta do, which is flap its wings and fly) off he’d zoom but always keeping his human friend in sight. While Brian shopped in the mall, Duke would wait on the roof. (No doubt reading or strolling back and forth?).
Though he didn’t care to associate with strangers, he didn’t mind crashing cook-out parties. If he spotted smoke from a neighbor’s barbecue, he’d fly to the place and beg for goodies, especially steak and garlic bread. Brian always knew when Duke had attended a barbecue because he’d come home with really ugly breath. (A bird with garlic breath is not a bird one wants riding on one’s shoulder).
Occasionally, Brian says his Dad would take Duke along to the hardware store – in the car. He’d ride in the passenger seat and wait calmly. Though he wasn’t house or car trained, Duke waited till he got home and out of the vehicle before making any deposits.
Brian isn’t sure, but he thinks Duke might have been on the road to becoming an alcoholic. He loved beer. He’d slurp it out of a cup or from a tipped-up bottle.
Like a puppy dog, Duke would play tug-of-war with a piece of cord or a strap. He’d grab on and Brian could lift him clear off the ground. Duke never let go. Plus he’d growl. Some may think birds don’t growl. They didn’t know Duke.
But he was an affectionate feathered friend. With one finger Brian’s mom would chuck Duke under his chin (do birds have chins?). Duke would stretch his neck and almost purr.
Brian says he and his family didn’t own (can you own a volunteer bird?) very long. It seems Duke stole things. He’d check out neighbors’ clotheslines and pull the clothespins off freshly hung laundry. Having to re-wash shirts and sheets did not amuse the housewives.
Probably what tipped the scales was when Duke took to stealing snacks from tots. A cookie in a 2-year-old’s mitt was fair game. (Here you are, a mere 24 months old, sitting in your stroller in your back yard enjoying fresh air, sunshine, the whole pristine world when suddenly from out of nowhere comes a black streak and your yum-yum is snatched. Sometimes right from your lips). Neighborhood Moms were not pleased with a dive-bombing blackbird stealing from the mouths of their babes.
Brian’s Dad put Duke in a crate, drove out in the country to a farmer friend and gave him the bird (pun intended). Duke took up residence in the farmer’s barn where, apparently, he lived happily ever after.