jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

If you are have difficulty playing the audio click here

Source: Blackbirds 1

Length of Segment: 00:01:15

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. When is a blackbird not a blackbird? To answer this riddle, we'll begin with a nursery rhyme phrase: “Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”. There have been several efforts to find meaning in this rhyme, but all the interpretations aside, this was an English rhyme, and the blackbirds referred to were birds that were often eaten in England and Europe, just as robins were eaten in this country and commonly sold in southern markets a little over a hundred years ago. The blackbird in the rhyme is a black bird, but it is not a true blackbird. In the New World, there is a family of birds collectively known as blackbirds. The blackbird family includes such familiar American birds as our red-winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, and boat-tailed grackle. The blackbird of the English nursery rhyme is in the thrush family, the same family that includes the American robin. The American robin and the English blackbird are closely related. Both are commonly seen hopping around on lawns in search of worms, they have a similar cheery song, and both have provided meat for the table. But it took a lot of blackbirds and robins to make a good meat pie.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

< Back to Blackbirds
GCU logoWGCU logoPALMM logospacerDigital Collections Center logoEverglades Digital Library