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A big birdie told us...

I think it would interest your readers (especially the old-timers and the younger crowd) to hear the history ofthe Black Bird store's mascot. That thing has been around for a long time, at least since before my arrival in 1979.

— Jere V., e-mail submission

You can't be in Medford too long without noticing the big ol' black bird standing out in front of, well, the Black Bird Shopping Center on West Main Street in Medford.

The 29-foot statue is made of fiberglass and has stood patrol in the Black Bird parking lot since 1965.

That's when Lee Hobbs erected the big-beaked bird hoping to entice customers into his new outdoor store that also handles Western wear, automotive goods and jewelry.

Hobbs was going to call the store Trade Mart, but Black Bird became a no-brainer name after Hobbs fashioned the oversized icon along the lines of similar fowl at Yard Bird stores operated by his friends Bill Jones and Rich Gillingham in Centralia, Wash. Those birds, however, were 10 feet tall.

This big bird is best-known for the fancy duds it sports for various seasons and events.

Over the past 34 years, the bird has sported everything from a cowboy hat to bunny ears to Super Bowl banners. To mark the annual Pear Blossom Run, the Black Bird dons an almost-too-tight set of shorts and a tank top.

But the bird's first, and most popular, alter-ego is Santa Claus. Each fall, he's dressed in a Santa hat and belt, cuffs and a beard.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.