A CHEEKY Jackdaw has brought Christmas early for one family – after it took on the role of Santa and stuffed their chimney with ‘gifts’.
Five-year-old pet bird Izzy had stowed the items inside the fireplace at his owners’ home, who had no idea that the festive ‘treat’ lay in store for them.
The various household items pilfered by the beaky bandit included socks, cutlery, pens, greetings cards and utility bills.
Even more bizarrely, Izzy also dropped pegs, shower curtain rings and a wrist support down the chimney.
His baffled owners had noticed things going missing from around their home, but had no idea that Izzy was the culprit.
It was only when the items came spilling out onto the living room carpet that they realised the tame jackdaw had built a makeshift nest inside the chimney.
Owner Monica Lawrence-Stubley said: “We call him Izzy which stands for ‘is-he misbehaving’ because he’s so mischievous and loves to steal things.
“We knew something was terribly wrong when black smoke came pouring from the fireplace.
“Everything was black – the walls and the ceiling.
Monica asked husband Chris to remove the couple’s gas fire, and when the debris came pouring from the chimney it was immediately obvious what had gone on.
She said: “Things had been disappearing around the house but we didn’t know what had happened to them until they all fell out of our chimney, along with soot, twigs and moss.”
Monica, 48, from Swineshead, Lincs, said that Izzy has a reputation for sticky-beaked behaviour.
She said: “One day I saw him on the roof with a pair of my knickers.
“I called him down and he landed on my arm.
“I was embarrassed but at least they didn’t go down someone else’s chimney.
“And another time I caught him flying out the door with my cheque book in his beak.”
Caring for jackdaws and other birds of the corvid family is now second nature to Monica and husband Chris, 53, who have two sons.
The family have taken in jackdaws, carrion crows and rooks that have been injured and cannot return to the wild for the last 11 years.
They currently have 19 birds, with the majority living in two large garden aviaries.
These include a one-eyed crow called Captain Beaky, and Pecky – who likes to meow like a cat and mimic police sirens.
But demanding Izzy, who is free to come and go as he pleases like one of the family’s four cats, gets the most home comforts.
College administrator Monica said: “He’ll go out of any window that is open, as he’s free roaming.
“He sits on the handle of the patio doors and chatters when he wants to come in.”
She added that he sleeps in a large macaw cage along with his one-legged crow friend Ro, who also lives inside the bungalow.
Izzy is treated to toys, meaty treats, loving strokes and warm baths.
“He’s a bit spoilt really,” said Monica as she blow-dried the wet bird while he perched on her lap.
“Somebody once described him as a toddler with wings, which we felt was very apt,” added Chris.
But unlike some toddlers, Izzy is surprisingly-well house trained and contains his mess to a small indoor ‘play pen’.
Like the other birds, Izzy is even partial to a bit of mince pie at Christmas – to go with his diet of mealworms, mince beef, scrambled egg and grapes.
The sneaky bird came into Monica’s care five years ago after it was seen hanging around Carlton Road Primary School in Boston.
“He seems to be attracted to children,” she said, “so we believe he must have been hand-reared as a youngster.”
Corvids, including ravens and magpies, have negative connotations for many people – being associated with old wives’ tales of bad luck, and religious ‘messengers of death’.
Monica said: “They really are such intelligent, friendly birds.
“And it’s amazing how quickly they can imprint on humans, and when they do you are completely taken with them.”