I guess it all started a couple years ago when I fell in love with a pheasant who was hanging around here. He was here almost everyday. It all started in the winter. He was eating the food that had been pushed out by the little birds in the bird feeder. He was loving it though and kept coming back. I watched him all the time. I was in awe of the colors of his feathers. It wasn't the first time I had ever seen a pheasant. The field next to the house I grew up in was full of pheasants. I don't remember seeing them much because they lived in very tall grass. Our dog used to eat their eggs. As it turns out my father put some of their eggs under our chickens one time and they hatched. The problem was that they knew instinctively that something wasn't right and they almost killed themselves trying to get free. So they set them free.
Here is my Big Bird.
I couldn't just keep calling him "that pheasant" so somewhere along the way I started calling him Big Bird. It just stuck. He was around more than I realized. He just kept turning up. One day there was a lot of snow and it was fairly deep for this part of the country. There he was, sitting on the fence in the sun. He was there for almost 3 hours. He was all over the place and left big tracks all around the house. I never saw another pheasant here except for a few that ran around here right before shooting season. He used to sit on the little short brick wall and make his pheasant sound and flap his wings. He had me trained. I would hear him in the morning and go out and leave him some food. I didn't really mind.
They look pretty silly when they're young. Sort of a cross between a pheasant and a chicken. I try to get pictures but they move too fast. Here's is one of my attempts.
Spring and summer left us without Big Bird for a while. I was sad because I was sure I would never see him again. My pretty bird. We were good friends when he left. I was able to get within a foot of his personal space before he backed up. I used to feed him every day under the huge juniper tree that's close to the front door. He made the funniest hoot sound when he ate. I even recorded it because it was so odd.
But he was gone.
It was late in the summer when Neil said he saw a pheasant out front by the fence near the road. He wasn't going very fast and was even limping a little bit. As he got closer it was obvious he was hurt. His chest was actually open and his skin was torn. I cried when I saw him. He jumped up on the short wall and just sat there. We looked at him close up through the binoculars to try to assess the damage. Whatever got him, got him good. There were also a lot of feathers gone from his neck but there were no injuries there. I couldn't stand to see him like that and I was so afraid he was going to die. I kept putting food and water out but he wouldn't eat. He ended up standing by the fence, facing the fence for days. He was very traumatized. I just made sure he had what he needed and left him alone. To be honest, he really has never been the same since then.
Fortunately, he survived. He went away again when he was strong enough, but he was gone... again.
One time we went across the road to look at the horses and we saw him and a dark female in the field over there. He was fine. I know it was him. I could tell by his colors. They all basically look the same but there are subtle differences. I would know him anywhere. I made all my familiar sounds and he did turn around. It was Big Bird.
Pheasants go nuts during mating season and they protect their "turf" like crazy. They have fights all the time with young whipper-snappers who come around looking for girls. One day I heard a familiar sound. I kept hearing him. Was it my boy? He was back! He had a few girlfriends with him. There had been another pheasant hanging around that I started calling Greenback because of his coloring. But the man was back! They fought and chased each other around but Big Bird rules the place again. I think you know how excited I was. Finally he narrowed it down to one lady and they were quite the couple.
Things were going well for my feathered friends. Too good. Once again my bird came up the grass limping real bad. I was terrified again. I didn't see any horrible wounds like last time. He was favoring his foot and was very reluctant to even put any weight on it. Finally he got close to the house. For weeks he sat in the sun. I put food out but again he was afraid to get too close. When he did get close enough to eat I tried to see what was wrong with his foot. It was his middle toe. Something was very wrong with it. It looked like there was a big round thing under it. I think it had been infected or something. Anyway, he would just lay in the sun and eat and rest. His foot is still bad and he still can't put his weight on that foot but he can hop along very fast if he has to. Here's a couple pictures of him taking it easy.
We just went through molting season. I have a bag full of feathers that I found in the grass. We pick them up when we find them. I never did find any tail feathers. His were all gone and I hate to say it but he looked a little silly. See for your self...
His feathers are nearly all back now and he looks much better.
They (the pheasant murderers) recently let the teenage pheasants loose so they could grow up in the wild and be shot in October. This "sport" is all in good fun to these rich people. I think it's sick. They shoot and shoot and if they kill too many they bury them in a ditch. How sick is that?
Here's Big Bird in the snow in November.
It might seem silly to think so much about a wild bird... but I love that bird. I don't mind when he needs food although he doesn't call for it anymore. He just waits. I love to see him everyday and I will be sad if he ever leaves again. I hope he lays low when shooting season begins. I wish I could lure them all over here for a few months so they can live.
Here's a couple more recent pictures taken on March 4. It was just starting to snow again. These are all females.
Sorry this one is blurry but it's cute.
Here's a close up of the new guy "Flaps". He's pretty but he's not Big Bird.
There are a lot of these dark green ones this year (October 2005) but they're really hard to get on film. As I was trying to get a picture of this guy there was a gunshot and he ran. His feathers aren't fully grown yet. That doesn't matter, they will try to shoot him anyway.
Shooting beautiful birds like Big Bird is a crime. It's insane. Most of the murders won't even eat them anymore because the feed they give them when they are young makes some people sick. So why are they shooting them? Because the rich can do anything they like.
The Queen loves to murder pheasants. Read this...
QUEEN OF CLUBS
Jan 25 2004
By Emma Cox and Grant Hodgson
THE Queen sparked outrage yesterday when she clubbed a pheasant to death with her walking stick.
Shocked onlookers watched as she picked up the injured bird which had been shot by a member of a shooting party.
Then she finished it off by raising her walking stick - which she has used since a knee operation last month - and hitting it repeatedly on the head.
The bird took several minutes to die and the Queen was seen laughing and joking with friends after the incident at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The 77-year-old monarch does not shoot herself but is a keen follower of the blood sport.
An onlooker said: "A gun dog brought her the bird which had been shot but was not quite dead.
"She took the bird from the dog's mouth and then hit it four or five times with her walking stick. She did not kill the bird quickly because it took several attempts."
The killing was condemned by animal welfare campaigners.
Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said: "Killing for pleasure is never acceptable - not even when the Queen is a participant.
"The fact that this is one of her first appearances since her operation demonstrates the Royal family's horrible addiction to bird killing."
Some say she clubbed it to death, some say she broke it's neck. I did find this picture though. Too bad someone doesn't do that to her.
I hope you enjoyed my pheasant stories. It's an on-going love affair.
If you want more information on the senseless murder of these beautiful creatures, please go to the Animal Aid site.