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The Legend of the Gackle

as told to Helen Chappell

According to "Captain Wimpy's Bird Book and Field Guide to North American Wildlife", the gackle (gacklia withane underwoodia) is a velvety purple bird that lives on chocolate and tea.

Captain Wimpy and Roger Tory Peterson had a big falling out over the gackle, and as a consequence, the late Dr. Peterson refused to list this bird in his famous guidebook. Following his example, the Audubon Society marched out of the Gackle Conference of 1966 en masse in what was later known in ornithological circles as The Gackle Debacle. Toward the end of his career, Dr. Peterson had a change of heart and admitted that the gackle, a lovely songbird, and the grackle, a noisy, quarrelsome pest, were two separate species. But it was already too late for Captain Wimpy, who had disappeared into Tibet while on expedition to locate the cawing Kevvie bird.

 Some people have mistaken the grackle for the gackle and added it to their life lists under the wrong name.

 Since the gackle is extremely elusive, preferring to live in deep, isolated woodland areas, high in the canopies of ancient trees, very few people have seen its lush purple coloring or heard its melodious song, a long soprano trilling. 

 According to folklore, however, a person who hears the sweet, liquid notes of this lovely bird will be blessed with a magically replenished TBR pile that never runs out, infinite amounts of chocolate, soft places to fall down on, and if a writer, advances and royalties beyond the wildest dreams.  

Gackles have been known to nest at Horseshoe, NC and other interesting places. The gackle nest is lined with soft purple down, and its eggs are a pale lavender speckled with golden flecks.

If one finds a gackle feather, it is a sign that all of one's wishes will come true.

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Page design by Maria Y. Lima

Gilda Gackle 1999 Tearoom Press 1999

Gilda Gackle drawings by Anne Underwood Grant

Gilda Paper Doll and Costumes by Kathleen Taylor

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