A pheasant has taken up residency in our garden. It’s a young female, we think, and we first spotted it yesterday afternoon when I opened the back door and startled it.
It has a very upright sprinting style – like the former 400-metre world record holder Michael Johnson – although the way it darted around the garden looking for cover I suspect it might have trouble staying in its lane.
Finally it shot down the alleyway to the side of our house and, realising it was trapped, cowered in the corner looking frightened.
I can’t bear it when animals are in any kind of distress and I started to worry that it was a sitting duck (or sitting pheasant?) should any predators spot it. It was safe from our cat, who was asleep on the bed, but the two chickens were not impressed about the uninvited visitor and began squawking at the top of their voices.
I did what any normal person would do in these circumstances, I took a photo and asked Twitter for advice.
‘Open the gate,’ said a number of bright sparks who didn’t realise the gate only opened from the inside and to reach it risked upsetting the pheasant further.
Several others suggested firing up the oven and reaching for our biggest Le Creuset pot.
A few people suggested getting a blanket, gently throwing it over the pheasant and then carrying it to safety. Someone said, ‘Pick it up like you would one of your chickens.’ My attempts to catch our chickens usually end up with me gasping for breath, feathers everywhere and the chickens hiding under the hedge with a smug, triumphant look on their beaky faces.
Well Chuffed Comms offered the most practical help. ‘It’s a pheasant, they’re not very bright.’ So far, so encouraging. ‘Be bold, approach it with a large cloth or towel and throw it over the bird. You should be able to grab it fairly easily. The trick is to be decisive and firm. Don’t dither or hesitate. You’ve got it backed into a corner so you have the advantage.’
Unfortunately, dithering and hesitating are more my strong suit.
Anyway, by the time I’d found a suitable blanket the pheasant had found its way out of the alleyway and was strutting around the garden again.
Lionel 1, Pheasant 0.
I spent the rest of the afternoon worrying it was trapped in our garden, unable to get up to speed to get airborne enough to fly over the fence and so was separated from its pheasanty family.
This morning it was there again, sitting by the back door, where the chickens sit in the hope they might get some veggie scraps from the kitchen.
‘That pheasant is definitely stuck in the garden,’ I said to no one in particular. ‘What should we do about it?’
‘It’ll be fine,’ said a voice from the front room. ‘It’s got plenty to eat with all the acorns and the chickens’ food.’
Later on in the afternoon, I was on the phone upstairs, looking down at the garden, watching Margo the chicken dustbathing in one hole in what used to pass for a lawn and Hettie the hen dustbathing in another.
Something to my left caught my eye.
It was the pheasant, sitting on the roof, surveying the garden and surrounding area as if it owned the place.
I finished my call and shouted down the stairs, ‘That pheasant isn’t stuck in the garden at all! It’s sitting on the bloody roof. It’s moved in, hasn’t it?’
‘Of course it has,’ said the voice from downstairs. ‘It might be daft but it’s not stupid. It’s got plenty to eat here and it’s probably made friends with the chickens.’
Can pheasants make friends with chickens? I hope it leaves a good review on Trip Advisor, I thought.