You may recall I talked recently about the swarm of Pheasants that stroll through the village of Glympton on the way home from London that triggered the delve into tongue twisters.
At first I was quite taken with all the baby and adult pheasants strolling across the road and duly slowed to a crawl to ensure that I did them no harm. Then just when you think you have safely passed all the danger you round the corner and have to re-slam the brakes as another family of pheasants decided to risk it all and hop in front of your car.
This routine of handbag flying off my car seat to save the pheasant has now too regular an occurrence to be described as cute.
I have noticed this week that their numbers are dwindling greatly and I see daily the evidence of their lack of road awareness. Yesterday, one looked me right in the eye while eating some feast they found on the road. When seeing my presence, it just shrugged and carried on with the meal.
Why are they not getting out of the way? How stubborn and stupid is this bird? Or is the fact that 90% of them are bred for being chased and shot at just giving them an air of “who cares – death wish it is?”
Some birds are among the smartest animals in the world. The smartest of the smart are — parrots, crows, ravens, jackdaws, jays, nutcrackers, magpies.
Controlled studies and thousands of hours of observations in the wild show how remarkably advanced these birds are in their problem-solving skills.
The term ‘bird brain’ is often used as a derogatory term for a person of diminished intellect. Perhaps this is where the Pheasant comes in?
According to Dr. Joah Madden and his team the pheasants level of ability changes depending on where they have been raised. Much in a similar way that humans react to their environment while growing up.
Commonly pheasants are raised on open grass runs from 2 weeks of age. The team found when they provided a 3rd dimension of perches and off ground obstacles and the growing birds developed stronger legs and increased their spatial memory and awareness.
As a result, the pheasants were more likely go up into the trees to roost out of the way of danger. Consequently, they were less likely to be killed by predators both mammals and cars.
Perhaps I should all start doping raisins to save the pheasant from their inevitable fate on the Roads of Glympton much like Danny and his father in the wonderful Roald Dahl book Danny Champion of the World.
Until then, we will all continue to slam the brakes on to avoid the pheasant with the death wish that didn’t grow up with perches in their environment.