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Since You Asked: Whatever happened to the bird at Black Bird?

Dear SYA smarties. I was happy to hear Black Bird Shopping Center is planning a new store in Phoenix with a new blackbird statue. But what I want to know is whether the store will be getting more live birds inside the new store and the old one in Medford.

— G.N., Medford

No one who lives in Medford can overlook the 29-foot statue outside the Black Bird store on West Main Street. This bird has stood sentinel since 1965 and, while he often sports nothing but his feathers, staff dress him up for special occasions.

He wears running shorts for the Pear Blossom run, a Santa hat for Christmas and for the plague year 2020, the Blackbird wore a mask. While the disease was new, the mask was not; it was created as an homage for firefighters during smoky summers.

Inside the store — behind the counter in the ammunition and knives section — another bird recently resided, an African grey named Joe.

How did it happen the bird in Black Bird was not black but gray? We could contend his color need not matter — he is a bird and a very smart one. African grey parrots’ intelligence levels compare with the smarts of 7-year-old children in laboratory trials.

Joe doesn’t live at Black Bird anymore. He recently went home with an employee he had befriended. The store eagerly awaits another resident, this one a black myna bird, said owner Tyler Quitt. A previous myna bird who lived there, Billy, passed on a few years back, and it turns out myna birds are hard to come by.

When Billy died, the store was birdless, which happened to coincide with the previous general manager’s desire to rehome his parrot, Joe. Now Joe has a new home, and the store is ready for a new bird.

The new store in Phoenix will also have a live bird, but the statue is dependent on city of Phoenix approval. Modern regulations preclude a statue of the imposing grandeur of the old one, but the new sentinel will be modeled on the old.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.