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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Squawk, One Flew Under the Cuckoo's Nest - the whole story

Squawk: One Flew Under the Cuckoo’s Nest Part I

Molly:  Molly, here, the overachieving Border Collie and canine  author of “The Molly Chronicles.” Today I’m coming to you from the couch at the ranch to report on the heroic actions of Tom, who single-handedly rescued Squawk, a blackbird, from an untimely demise. And here with me is my human Tom,  a  retired biologist, a little old man with a tractor, and an expert at scratching ears. Tom, our readers want to know all about it. Is it true that you rescued Squawk from almost certain death by cat?

Tom:  Is this my cue to speak, or are you still just babbling? The microphone’s on? Oh right. Well, ahem . . . Molly . . . ahem,  Squawk, a baby blackbird, apparently, left her nest a little bit early. She could only fly down. So she was hopping around in the middle of the orchard and just kind of flying a foot or two at a time.

Molly:  And here, sitting on Tom’s finger is Squawk. Squawk, can you tell us what it was like, falling out of your nest.


Squa-a-a-a-k, my whole world was turned upside down. One minute I had my mouth open demanding food from my mother who was taking her own sweet time. And the next minute I’m hurtling through space,  and no food in sight!   Oh, Squa-a-a-a-k!  I flapped with every ounce of strength in my baby wings, but it was all too much for me. And having given a last desperate flutter, I plummeted to the hard earth below. Frightened, hurt, and lost, I could think of only one thing. Lunch. I squawked as hard as I could, expecting that my mother would come to feed me. But she didn’t.
Tom:  It was late spring. That’s fledgling season. So we had a lot of birds making all sorts of noise. We have seven farm cats and basically this little one was just hopping around the field squawking. She might as well have been yelling, “eat me. Eat me. Eat me.” So I got out the seasonal bird cage and incarcerated her - for her own protection.
 The ranch dogs understood the bird ban, the cats not so much. Th bars on the cage were crucial because Squawk had no survival instincts.

Molly:  Being one of the ranch dogs, I was informed right away that Squawk was not for eating or chewing or tasting or chasing.  Which was unfortunate. If I could have just gotten her alone   . . .   And I could probably have figured out a way to get a paw into the cage  . . .   
But, no, I would never disobey my humans’ commands, especially  if they were watching me.

Tom:  Molly, you were particularly protective of Squawk, I noticed. What were your motives?

Molly:  I can’t tell you about that.
(And no matter what anyone says, the chicken incidents were not my fault.)

Tom:  Ahem . .  Molly?

Molly:  I’ll ask the questions. Thank you very much.
What kind of a bird is Squawk?

Tom:  She’s a common blackbird, one of many, many blackbirds on the ranch.

Molly:  And Squawk is a female?

Tom:  I think so. Yes.   

Molly:  Inquiring minds want to know - did she take well to this incarceration? (Allegedly for her benefit.)

Tom:  She was fine as long as food kept coming.

Molly:  Did you feed her birdseed?

Tom:  Nope. Baby food. Vegetables and meat. I had to formulate something that I could deliver with a medicine dropper because she didn’t know how to pick up food by herself. It took her two hours to figure out that I wasn’t just a strange bystander but somebody who had food. After that, the bond was permanent.

Molly:  She adopted you?

Tom:  Yup. After the first uneasy period, she adjusted easily to the new method of feeding.

Molly:  And she liked that?

Tom:  It’s hard to say what she liked. She wasn’t very discriminating at first. Anything that hit her mouth got swallowed. Even when she was so full that food would come out of her mouth instead of going in, she would still squawk, asking for more. And she didn’t know how to pick up food off of the bottom of her cage. I had to hand-feed her everything.  

Molly:  And, Squawk, what was it like for you? One minute you were flopping around the orchard . . .

Squawk: The next thing I knew, a giant claw man reached out and grabbed me. I fought and pecked and struggled but it was too strong. That claw all but crushed me. It looked like the end. I feared I’d never taste another worm tail again.

Molly:  But that wasn’t the end, was it?

Squawk: No, The claw man put me into a cage. Can you even imagine it - a cage! I protested in the only way I knew how. Squawk. Squa-a-a-w-k.
And the next thing I knew, the claw man had a stick and he was trying to force it down my throat.  Can you believe it? Again I struggled. Weakened by hunger,  I tried to fight the stick. Alas  it was to no avail. But lo! Surprise! the stick had food inside it. And he squirted this food into my poor starving stomach. Food, glorious food! And not just the tasteless junk my mother stuffed inside me. This was gourmet. Soft and pasty and meaty, with just a hint of grains and vegetables. the claw man and I soon became fast friends. I kept on squawking loudly and just like with my mother, the more I squawked the more food appeared.  And then one day, I thought I had gone to heaven. The most wonderful thing in the world happened to me - spaghetti!

Molly:  So, Tom, Squawk took to her new lifestyle?

Tom:  She was kind of focused on the food. As long as it kept on coming she was okay.
Then I got Parker involved feeding her.  I think Parker almost killed  her with over-feeding and she was quiet for a while.

Molly:  Folks,  Parker is a small human who smells like chocolate. He’s about as tall as I am, and he has very red cheeks, and he likes to feed animals including me.

Tom:  And then one day we had a breakthrough. She dropped some food that I was trying to feed her and she jumped down and ate it. It was like potty  training - something they can’t do until they’re ready, and then they just do it. I was so proud of her. It was a piece of spaghetti, I think. She seemed to like spaghetti.

Molly:  A heart worming heartwarming story, folks. Love, a man, a bird, and a piece of spaghetti. A sigh and drool escape my lips as I think about it . . .  So, Squawk, you didn’t mind being in a cage?

Squawk: Not at first. As long as the spaghetti arrived on schedule. But then . . .

Molly:  Then what?

Squawk: Then I grew strong. My wings wanted a chance to fly, to be free. We birds were not meant to lead a life in prison. We were meant to fly, to soar, to race the wind rushing by.

Molly:  What happened next, Tom?

Tom:  I let her out of her cage.

Molly:  Why?

Tom:  ‘Cause she’s a wild bird, not a pet. She couldn’t develop properly confined to her cage. See, if you’re a bird, you have to use your wings in order to learn how to fly and not bump into things. Keeping her caged, it would be like keeping a baby confined to a bed and expecting him to learn to walk. I let her out when I knew I'd be around.

Molly:  How long did she stay out?

Tom:  At first it was for a few hours.  We didn’t go outside of the house until she could fly properly. So she just, you know, she just did short sprints and I was always there to keep the cats away. As long as she had a bowl of food, it was okay. But then we went outside, and she started going on longer and longer trips.

Molly:  But she’d come back to you?

Tom:  She came back because I had food. I’d call her.

Molly:  How?

Tom:  Squawk,  squawk,  squa -a -a -a- wk.
And she’d come and I had to have food available. She only came for the food.
And then one night it happened - what I’d been dreading all along. It got really late, almost dark, and she didn’t come to her call. And then it  got dark, and she still hadn’t arrived, so I thought maybe she had been eaten. Probably trying to be friends with cats. That’s hazardous to a young bird’s health. 
Birds don’t fly after dark. There was nothing to do except wait until the next day.

Molly:  I volunteered to go hunt her down, I mean to go look for her, but my human said to just wait until morning.

(continued - to be posted when my human finishes playing solitaire.)

Squawk: One Flew Under the Cuckoo’s Nest Part II

Molly: Molly, the canine roving reporter here. When we left off last time, Squawk, our blackbird, had stayed out all night. Tom was worried that she had been eaten. What happened after that, Tom?
Tom: At dawn the next day, the dogs and I went way down in the back acre where she found me, and she was excited to see me. Luckily I had the foresight to bring a chopped up hard-boiled egg.
Squawk: Where was the spaghetti?  That’s what I wanted to know. You just can’t get good help these days.
Molly: Oh, it looks like Squawk has just joined us. Squawk, tell us your feelings about staying out all night.
Squawk: It’s what I was meant to do - to flit from berry to berry, eating my fill of - squawk - luscious goodness.

Tom: I was beside myself with worry. You see she had gotten mixed up with this bad crowd. Blackbirds from the seedy side of town.
Squawk: And flying. OMG flying!  Just like an eagle I’m free. Squawk!!!!! To soar,  to race the wind, to tease cats, and get them all hissy, and then to fly up  into the clouds. Ha, ha - you can’t catch me you landlubbers!   
Molly: And did you miss Tom and the safe comfortable cage?
Squawk: Freedom’s just another word for life without spaghetti. Give me liberty or give me meal worms. 
Molly: What does that even mean?
Squawk: How should I know. I never took history.
Tom:  There was a male blackbird chasing her around. A cocky  Romeo with bright red epaulets. A fancy Dan with a slick squawk, and a eye for the ladies. You could just tell that he was up to no good  In fact that’s him right over there - the one on the garbage can lid, strutting around and acting like God’s gift to the world.
Squawk is too young to understand. Too innocent.
Squawk: Hey, Handsome, see anything you like? Squawk.  Come with me to the Pyracantha bush. We can make beautiful music together.
Tom:  She stayed out all night a second time. You see, she was mixed in with that bad crowd I told you about. There was no telling what she’d been up to. Pooping on cars, dive-bombing the cats, smoking fermented Pyracantha berries. The sweet little girl I’d raised was growing into someone I didn’t know any more. I was beside myself. 
Squawk: Hey chill, Dad. It’s all good.
 Tom:  She does have an attitude. Sometimes she’d get pissed at me when I’d grab her and put her in the cage, and she’d bite my finger. Or I’d reach in to take her out and she’d try to fly away. But underneath it all, I know she loves me. Or at least she loves the food I give her.
Squawk: You ain’t nothing but a food dish.    Feed me. Squawk.  Sqa-a-a-wk!
 Tom:  So I grounded her for her own safety - so she wouldn’t interface with cats or stay out all night. She sort of resented that and bit my finger.
Molly: Your thoughts, Squawk?
Squawk: I’m only a bird in a gilded cage.  A prisoner of love.    So hop to the jailhouse rock with me.♫  Squa-a-a-wk 
Molly: Is this the end of the story - with Squawk safely in her cage protected from the dangers and evils of life outside? Or will that Blackbird Casanova, that Fancy Dan, that red-shouldered gigolo get his way with Squawk? I fear there is more to come.

The Petition

This is Molly the Border Collie here.  If you’ve been following the adventures of Squawk the blackbird, you know that Tom has incarcerated her in the (shudder) bird cage in order to protect her from the bad influences - the birds from the seedy side of town. Squawk’s blackbird friends have asked me to write a petition demanding the immediate release of Squawk and to circulate it on the Internet.  If you believe that blackbirds should fly freely and not be confined to a cage, please add your comments.
Thank you,

Here is the petition:

We, the blackbirds  and Border Collie of the ranch demand that Squawk be released immediately from her unlawful imprisonment in the bird cage and be allowed to fly freely.
X, X, X, X, X, X,  X, X, X,X, X, X,
(Note:  Most of the blackbirds are less intelligent than a Border Collie, and can't write their names, so they had to sign the petition with X's).

 Free the bird. Free the bird. Free the bird.
Signed Walter (the) Pigeon

Free Squawk. I love her. I'm just a bird with intentions so good. Please, don't let me be misunderstood.
Signed Ian Blackbird (the Romeo with the red epaulets.)

Ask Molly (Molly's advice column)

Dear Molly,
We’re all so worried about Squawk, Is she okay? We heard heard that she ran away from home.
The Wilson family, 
Karen, Elsa, John and Judy

                                                          Molly relaxing from her busy schedule

Dear  Wilson Family,
 It’s true. Squawk has flown away from home. And we’re all worried too.  Tom is beside himself. He feels that it's all his fault. We haven’t heard from Squawk for days, and we fear the worst.
Signed (with anxiety,)

Squawk: One Flew Under the Cuckoo’s Nest Part III

Molly: Molly your roving reported here. I’m back with Tom in the orchard, and we  have  bad news. Squawk has flown the coop. Yes, Squawk is missing. It’s been a week since the last time Tom has seen her, and we’ve just about given up hope. Tom, do you fear the worst?

Tom: Yes, I do, Molly. Squawk is somewhere out there. She may be okay, She may be dead. I have no way of knowing. I feel that somehow this is all my fault. Maybe if I’d kept her in her cage longer, kept her safe. But I know in my heart that Squawk was meant to fly, to be with other blackbirds. If only she hadn’t gotten mixed up with that crowd, those . . . those . . . trailer-trash birds. Squawk is way too good for the likes of them. But, when all’s said and done, we can’t control what our children do. We just love them, try to teach them right from wrong, and in the end we let them go and hope for the best. But . . .  I fear the worst.

Molly:  I feel Tom’s pain. And it does look  bad for Squawk.


Molly: Who said that?

Tom: It’s her. I’d know that squawk anywhere.

Molly: I see seven or eight blackbirds that look like Squawk sitting in trees and flying overhead. But which one is Squawk?

Tom: She’s the one over there, about to land on the chicken coop. A father always knows his own child. Besides, that’s where she always perches.

Molly: Folks, Tom has just confirmed that Squawk has indeed returned. But will she acknowledge Tom? Will she return to him, or will she fly away?


Molly: Meanwhile, Tom has gone inside the house, and he’s coming out now with a small dish of spaghetti.  And he’s coming over here with the dish held up high above his head. Tom, can you explain what you plan to do.

Tom: Yes, I plan to lure Squawk to me with the spaghetti.

Molly: And then what?

Tom: I just want to know that she’s all right.


Molly: And now Tom is standing in the middle of a poorly traveled dirt road somewhere in the rural outposts of California  holding a small dish of spaghetti in his hand. All we can do is wait now. All the blackbirds, including the one he believes to be Squawk,  are ignoring him. 


Molly: But wait. The one perched on the chicken coop has lifted off. She’s flying away. No, she’s coming back. She’s circling. She appears to have seen Tom and the spaghetti. She’s circling. But will she land? Will she come back to Tom after all this time?
Yes, she has landed on Tom’s shoulder. She appears to be eying the spaghetti, and now, she’s flown down to the dish and, yes, folks, she is eating spaghetti.


Squawk: Oh, I love spaghetti. Spaghetti, it’s Heaven to me. ♫       Squawk, gobble, burp, squawk.  ♫Supper time sup sup sup sup supper time.  In the supper time, when all the♫ - oh heck with the singing slurp, chomp squawk, gobble, burp.

Molly: Amazing! She has come back to Tom and to her first love - spaghetti.  Squawk what are your feelings at this moment?

Squawk: It’s food, glorious food. Spaghetti, spaghetti.  I’m a fool for spaghetti.

Molly: Look at that bird eat! And now she’s lifting off. Squawk, do you have any parting words for us?

Squawk: I was born  to fly, to be free.   ♫ I have to be me. It’s what I have to be. ♪Freedom’s just another thing for squawk, squawk.♫    Tom, you were a good father, and bringer of  bird food, but now it’s time for me to fly and to make my own way in the world, to create my own destiny.  Squawk.

Molly: and now she has circled around and landed on Tom’s head. Tom appears somewhat misty-eyed.

Squawk: Remember me always.    Squa-a-a-a-wk  Good bye. Oh, one last thing:  

Tom: The  !!!!!!!!  bird just   s *** ed  on my head!

Molly: And with that Squawk is flying away. A bittersweet ending to the tale.  I could have eaten her. Oops, did I say that out loud? This is Molly your roving reporter signing off. Good luck and good news, and watch out for birds bearing gifts.