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Ebony and Spica: Two Birds in My Life Paperback – 25 Feb 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: New Generation Publishing (25 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910162930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910162934
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 0.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,572,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not the sort of book I would normally gravitate towards, but I found it a real pleasure to read. What struck me initially was how different human beings are from one another - the author is woken one morning by a cacophony in her garden, 'Screeching and a chorus of staccato alarm calls,' and rushes out to investigate. To somebody else, the cat-fight described might have been an annoying interruption to breakfast, but for Janet Doolaege it marked the start of an enduring relationship with Ebony, the injured young blackbird she rescued from the jaws of death.

Ebony could not have fallen into better hands - Janet had been a bird lover since the age of eight, when she climbed a tree in her native Dorset, and felt a 'sense of wonderment at the first sight of the fledgelings in a neat heap, beaks resting on scrawny backs, packed into the cup of a blackbird's nest'. She has already fed rescued sparrows with the same small tool from her manicure set that she now carefully uses to nurse this young blackbird back to health. Ebony, however, turns out to be permanently disabled which means that he can never live in the wild again - so Janet puts her home at his disposal.

Janet does not now live in Dorset, but in Paris, where she works as a translator - and the Parisian backdrop provides colour to the story. The author describes, in her precise and accurate English, the minutiae of living with this carefully observed rescued bird. The care she devotes to him is astonishing - she leaves work to travel home every day at lunch time to feed him when he is young, and when he scratches himself with an errant claw, he is taken to the vet to be anaesthetized and stitched up.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Having read and really enjoyed 'Candlepower', which features the enigmatic and intriguing 'bird woman' Rose, I felt I had to know more about the inspiration for that character and this author's involvement with our feathered friends. In 'Candlepower' Rose could communicate with these little wild creatures and it was clear the author also had a strong affinity with them - and I needed to know more.

Ebony (a blackbird) and Spica (a starling) were two birds rescued and reared by the author and her husband in real life. As someone who has tried (and sadly failed) to raise rescued birds who entered my life and tugged at my heartstrings, I longed to read about actual success stories and I wasn't disappointed. If only this book had been available then! Every page proved not just an education, but an enchanting journey into the lives of these sweet little creatures.

Most of Ebony's life was spent in a Paris apartment with the author until she moved herself and him out to the country with her husband. Ebony lived a long and happy life and reading about his delightful antics brought me so much happiness. But it was Spica who stole my heart. This little creature knew he had a special place in the world - and in his little world in particular, he certainly ruled the roost. I laughed aloud at some of his antics and the visions of the author and her husband trying to enjoy their evening meal in their dining room with its floor covered in newspapers, table protected by a plastic cloth and themselves bedecked in blue overalls, while Spica inspected, tasted and explored everything around him like a tiny feathered lord of the manor.

'Ebony and Spica' makes the most delightful reading.
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Format: Paperback
To say I loved this book isn’t giving Ms. Doolaege enough credit. It moved me to tears, and I read parts of it over from the first reading several times, because I enjoyed the way they made me feel so much. This book is really two books in one, telling of two sequential but separate times in the author’s life where she cared for two wild birds who weren’t able to be returned to the wild. Supplemental to these two tales, and added in as seasoning are real life facts about both species of birds as well as how to care for them in all stages of their lives, which initially are interesting and humorous then take on a compellingly moving nature as the tales progress and the reader becomes attached to both the starling Spica and the blackbird Ebony. As an animal rescuer myself, I am familiar with the poignancy of caring for rescued animals as well as the often hilarious situations that ensue in the normal course of life; this work delivers both in spades, from errant mealworms crawling about the house and discovered by guests at inopportune times to the close calls with both birds through sickness, real-life challenges, and their old age.

Beyond the normal caring for a wild animal, the author’s relationship with these birds surpassed that of nurturer and caregiver and in the 16 years for Ebony and 10+ years for Spica that she spent with them, became a family bond stronger than most people likely feel for their human family.

“Even if I was embroiled in rows or depressed by disappointments, I felt, whenever I opened my front door, that Ebony was there, that he needed me quite simply, and that we accepted each other.”
“The years have rolled by. Spica the starling has lived with us for more than ten years.
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