The Tale of Long John

Now we predicted the ending of this tale quite prematurely. Taking for granted the adage "survival of the fittest," we would have to be forgiven for predicting an early and unpleasant demise.

For obvious reasons, we will call him (or her) Long John and for those of the Google generation who don't get it, or assume something else, might be interested in. . . last name "Silver."

But our story is not fictional. Furthermore, while it will eventually have an unfortunate ending, in the meantime it has a very enlightened and uplifting message.

We first discovered Long John, a white Ibis, picking bugs out of our yard about three years ago. These flocks, we now know, are quite obviously the same ones that always come around. One could assume that, but we wouldn't have otherwise known this since they all look alike. . . . we would attempt to intervene . . .

You can tell the younger birds from the older ones since the younger ones start out with darker, almost black plumage and as they get older it turns almost white except for the a few of the feathers under their wings. The birds stand about 20 inches, but he was a younger bird with his family flock which make their apparently predetermined rounds of freshly mowed area yards and fields providing an easier way to harvest bugs.

We cannot encourage this process more vigorously than we do and feel unfulfilled and uncompleted when the flock leaves.

You might imagine our shock and horror when looking out on the normally interesting and serene scene, and discovering that one of the young birds has a broken leg. The leg is flopping around and the bird is clearly in a desperate situation. As he is hopping around the yard trying to keep up with his compatriots, his leg is hampering his movements and clearly causing substantial distress.

We brainstorm the situation and decide that "survival of the fittest" be-damned, we would attempt to intervene and at least extend his survivability to the extent that we could. We are animal people but pragmatic animal people and have had pumas and tigers in our house and in our yard before (no. . .not wild). In addition to various and sundry other animals, we had Piccolo, a Catalina macaw for 20 years until a neighbor's dog attacked and killed him a few years ago. Therefore, we know some wild animals will not take well to captivity.

We stealthily try to come up on him from different sides in an attempt to capture him and maybe splint his leg. But it was for naught. While he couldn't run or hop very fast he could fly alright and he/they flew off. We resigned ourselves to the outcome that he would soon become food for hungry anything's.

Then also imagine our shock and surprise when a few weeks later the flock showed again with Long John still sporting a flopping leg, but otherwise getting along just fine. However, we still figure it was just a matter of time.

Well, that was about three years ago. We saw him a few times since, but there was a long stretch when we were sure he had become food.

Some people can overcome near catastrophic disasters and many can't overcome even the smallest challenges. We've known this for some time having come back from several disasters, not the least of which was rebuilding after the near total disaster of going through the eye of Hurricane Charlie.

The pictures of Long John herein attached were taken this week.