April 1, 2008

Newest kind of spring chicken!

It started while I was eating lunch. A low "what...what...what" noise, coming closer and closer. Then the barking began. Frenzied sheepdog intruder alert barking and a loud "WHAT" sounds coming from the pasture. Even before I took off my reading glasses and ran outside I knew what we had.

Our neighbors have a roaming bird menagerie, with guineas, white layers and other even larger birds. These fowl are notoriously territorial. Each spring the previous year's males are intimidated and driven off by the older cocks. So every year about this time we get a few visitors, hoping that our pastures are truly greener.

Unfortunately our sheep dogs feel that this is just a new kind of crow, so they attempt to drive these visitors off, nipping at their plumage. They don't really damage the bird but last year one came over at night and our border collie crosses did manage to get it pretty well plucked before I got there and rescued it. This time I was awake.

I didn't wait, I ran out full tilt, cast or no. Sheepdogs were pinned, the bird shook itself and ran off through the pasture towards home. I tied the dogs, while our horses raced around worriedly looking at this huge brightly colored invader.

With the dogs tied, I finished my lunch then went looking for the bird. He'd ended up trapped between a cactus and our fence, looking longingly at our neighbor's yard. I could see him thinking "ET phone home...."

I went to the opposite side of the fence. No go, he was wedged too tightly to turn around. Pretty bird, but stupid.

P.S. We are amazingly adaptable, us humans. I am once again at the computer writing, cast or no. Using the mouse with my left hand is the biggest challenge!

So I approached slowly and removed him from behind, pulling him out gently by the tail. Whether it was exhaustion from being chased by dogs or just stupidity, he was remarkably docile. Inspection showed no damage or blood, though our property was littered with long tail feathers. He seemed calm enough about being carried... so ....

Photo opportunity! Then I walked him back over to the neighbor's property and tossed him back in. Peacocks are not my favorite bird but I was glad when he ran off apparently unhurt.

Cheers for chickens!

Allison and the volunteer peacock