Soon after I arrived on Monday, I saw the pheasant chase a tractor. I was not fast enough with the camera to catch the hilarious sight, but picture if you will a giant green tractor ambling along with a small bird in hot pursuit. I also noticed that his tail feathers were about half their usual length and was told that a child had tried to pick him up and stepped on them in the process. I can see why he might be angry.
I also can see why the term “attack bird” applies to him…So, I was helping out with Waterford’s feeding. The hose that’s used for him threads from his pen into the barn where it’s attached to the pump. I turned it on and rounded the corner to find that the boy who was feeding him was retreating with a large stick in his hands. “What’s with the stick?” “The pheasant is attacking me!” Well, maybe he just doesn’t like him. This would never happen to me!
I caught up with the pheasant and he walked along with me, buddies as usual. (See?) It wasn’t until I stepped up on a log for better access to Waterford’s buckets that I saw a flash in my peripheral vision, a flurry of wings. The pheasant had switched his attitude from peaceful helper to “I HATE YOU SO MUCH” in one fell swoop. All of the sudden, he was launching his little body off the ground and biting me wherever his pointy little beak could make contact. My foot and ankle were bombarded with angry birdie kisses. I moved my foot around to shoo him away, obviously not wanting to kick him in the face, but this just fueled his frenzied attack. With the hose still in my hand, I made a quick decision and turned it on him, sloshing the water over him. This helped a bit but he was pretty determined. So I turned the spout into a spray nozzle with my finger and sprayed the living daylights out of him. He kept trying to rush me and then would stop in a giant bird puddle, start again, stop again. Defeated, he gave up trying to maim me and spent the next couple of minutes crouching comically and then shaking his feathers maniacally and THEN wiping his face off in the dirt (by far, my favorite part).
Later when I was working in the barn, he stood outside the door threatening to come in, peering in the door at me. Hopping back and forth. He reminded me of a little boxer, sparring his way in and out of the door. Hopefully next week, his tail feathers will have started to grow back in and he’ll be less cranky. Although, I have to thank him for giving me the opportunity to give him a good long spray. He certainly took it like a champ.
In other bird news, because Monday was a state holiday, there were a lot of visitors at the farm. Claudius the swan was out and about and ended up in the section where there are swing sets and climbers. As I’ve mentioned, Claudius prefers the company of animals and children are definitely not the next down on the list. I was in the barn working and I noticed that he’d parked himself at one of the gates and was gently banging his head against it over and over again. “Please let me out. Please let me out. Please let me out. Please let…”. I left my post to free him and realized the exit was roped off. Now I had to get him over the other exit at the same time that a number of people were leaving. He hemmed and hawed and oh, five minutes later, he finally walked through the gate.
It was nice though because visitors asked me questions and I knew the answers to them. I felt like I’d passed into a new level of volunteering. And maybe Claudius will go on walks with me now.
Meet Sturbridge. When finished at the barn for the night, I close the two doors securing the animals and then the gate between the sheep and the corral is opened or shut according to Deb’s instructions for the alpacas. One of the kids came to the barn to get something and left the gate open and Sturbridge, Apricot (a mini goat) and another sheep came to investigate. Apricot climbed into Athena’s hay bucket and pushed her out of the way (he does this with the sheep he lives with as well. Half their size but he sure knows how to shove). I managed to put the food dish away before the three of them could eat her dinner but getting them back out of the barn was a bigger task. Two kids managed to wrangle Apricot and the other sheep away but Sturbridge was holding out hope. I got him out of the barn and closed the big doors and reentered through the back corral. I figured that we were done and finished up in the barn. And then I heard it. “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh”. I opened the doors a crack and this is Sturbridge shoving his face in. I told him that I was sure there was still food where he eats, but he insisted that there wasn’t. Later when I was at the bird house, I found both Sturbridge and Apricot stuffing their faces with hay. Liars! At least they’re adorable ones.
This quick snapshot was taken to show the varied birds. Obviously there are the peacocks and my turkey love but look in the space between the gate posts in the middle and you’ll see the emu. Look in the rafters and you’ll catch the yellow head of the other pheasant who is reminiscent of a parrot. Winslow is a great place to learn about different birds because there are many different kinds and one can walk right up to them. Speaking of learning more about them, I was only a few feet away from the peacocks this time around. Every once in a while, they move their tail feathers in a way that makes their feathers shake from base to tip. All the colors blur together and the sound is incredible.