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Submitted By

Debra Fossum

Reynolds, ND, United States


By Debra Fossum (Spring 2017)

It was October 2016, when we noticed him still hanging around our yard. A black bird, Common Grackle, had not headed south with the rest of his clan. No sign of injury and yet day after day he was spotted in the woods next to our homestead east of Reynolds, ND.

I must admit that Grackles do not rate among my top ten birds, probably not even in my top fifty. They are a rambunctious, noisy bird that bullies the smaller birds at the feeders. Yet by November, this particular black bird had attracted the love and attention of my three grandchildren that live with me. Together we picked out the name Lucky because the kids felt that if he was going to stay the winter than Grandma’s yard was the luckiest place to stay.

We installed a heated water dish on the deck and it wasn’t long before Lucky found it as the weather turned cold and snowy. We added corn to the mixture for the various bird feeders hoping he would eat enough calories to endure the subzero temperatures of North Dakota. Every snowstorm was followed by a mad dash outside to clear the feeders and shovel out underneath them so that Lucky could ground feed the extra bird food we scattered.

A sadness filled the air on days when Lucky wasn’t immediately visible. The day would be filled with numerous trips to the many windows in the house. Then finally, pure joy when one of us spotted him.
The first warm spell of late winter brought with it a new excitement in the house. Lucky was observed by five pair of eyes as he took a bath in the heated water dish on the deck. He didn’t seem to mind the audience. It was the first time we had seen him dive in rather than just take a drink. The whole routine made us feel like Lucky was comfortable being a part of our family.

Spring arrived and to everyone’s delight, Lucky had endured the long winter. His appearance was also beginning to change. As the intensity of the sun’s rays increased, Lucky was seen sunning himself more. His glossy, iridescent plumage literally shined in the sunlight.

Day after day Lucky would sit in the trees and call out while puffing up his plumage and shoulders as if he were wearing a cape. But there was no answer to his call. The black bird migration was still weeks away. Gradually the children learned to accept that their love for Lucky was not enough, he needed something more.

Today a flock of black birds filled our trees. They ate, drank and then they were gone. Lucky went with them. I may not have appreciated grackles before but today I shed a tear knowing I was going to miss our Lucky.




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