Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pheasants Revisited, New Admits, Canada Goose Heroes

(Photo: Ring-necked Pheasant admitted last night is feeling better.)

It certainly has been a "pheasant" kind of day here at REGI. We have not admitted a pheasant in 4-5 years and within 10 hours we had two individuals. They were different varieties and from completely different locations.

The unfortunate Ring-necked Pheasant in the photos on last night's blog is some variant of a Ring-necked Pheasant. From the research I was able to do, he is likely a Chinese/Manchurian cross. He is still very weak and is missing his tail. He is beginning to eat a little on his own and can stand for short periods on his battered legs. For those of you who did not see the blog last night, I will insert a photo of his legs as they were when he was admitted. They were held together with a hard plastic clip.

A faithful blog reader contacted a humane officer and sent the photo to them. This is the statement we received from them.

"When training bird hunting dogs the dog owners will either put a harness or leg ties on the pheasants (or pigeons) so they can use these birds to train their dogs. Of course, in WI it is mistreatment for the birds to be injured or killed during this process. Most respected bird dog trainers do not use the leg clamps."

Humans have an uncanny way of thinking up methods to abuse animals. I understand the missing tail and wing clipping also is done purposely to assure the birds are not able to fly well. In that way they are can be "shot" more easily. The humane officer I talked with said it is a version of a "canned hunt". I cannot in good conscience call these idiots "hunters". A legitimate hunter would cringe at the thought of shooting an animal hobbled in such a manner. Lets not give any respect to these folks and just call them " shooters".

It takes all kinds to make this world. We see the best and the worst of human behavior in our work and sometimes in the same today.

( Photo: This male Golden Pheasant is a vision in his brilliant plumage.)

On a happier note, Steve Fisher, our Environmental Education Coordinator and all around good guy, transported a beautiful Golden Pheasant from the Marathon Country Humane Society to REGI this morning. This bird had an interesting history and I suspect was the cause of the reports in the Rothschild area of a "peacock". The Golden Pheasant certainly is a flashy guy and with that long tail could be mistaken for the exotic peacock.

His story is funny and we need some humor today. A Rothschild Police Officer captured the bird after a resident was unable to get into her driveway. The pheasant would not move to allow her to pass. My take on it was, the bird was pretty tired of our Wisconsin winter, and he finally decided the only way he would make his point would be to stand in front of the car and demand he get a better place to live than in the fields.

He is spectacular in color and plumage and will find a home in a zoo when he recovers. It is not natural for him to be running amok in WI, especially in the winter. There is not much camouflage in those brilliant feathers.

( Photo: "Hey, can someone get me to REGI?" The confident Golden Pheasant found his own way to get help.)

A little background on pheasants...
Pheasants have been bred in captivity for a very long time. In some areas of our country, particularly where there are large populations, it is assumed pheasants are native to the U.S. . The truth is, pheasants were imported from Asia and first entered the U.S. in 1733. In 1881 a flock of 100 pheasants was released in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The rest is history, as the released birds bred well and were very popular with people in the area. It was also noted the birds were not only beautiful but were excellent for sport hunting. Captive breeding was begun in earnest at that time. The Ring-necked Pheasant was found to be the most sturdy and have the best survival rate of all the introduced breeds in the U.S. That is how pheasants came to be a game bird in the U.S. They are native to China and were released in the U.S. as game birds. My late parents actually raised pheasants for release in the late 1940's in Wisconsin as part of a program by the WI Conservation Department at the time.

(Photo: A Canada Goose from Marshfield enjoys putting his feet in a bowl of water after being admitted to REGI.)

We had another wonderful story today. Jim Banks of Marshfield has been emailing me about an injured Canada Goose in a field near his home. The bird had a broken wing and was unable to fly. The neighbors and friends in the area were concerned about the goose and had been leaving grain for it. A coyote was sighted in the area and concern was growing about the goose being able to survive in the open field. The group of friends worked together this morning to capture the goose and Jim transported him to REGI.

The goose has two broken wings. One a bit worse than the other, but both are in good position. He has a good prognosis to heal completely. When he is feeling better, he will be put out into the sheltered pond area with other Canada Geese. Here he can winter safely and finish healing. When spring comes, if he can, he will migrate with the wild geese. If he is unable to be fly, he will become a foster parent for the orphaned Canada Geese we receive at REGI in the spring. Geese are great parents, and their young do not have to be their biologic young for them to rear and protect them. Many people are surprised that males can raise young alone and do a fantastic job! Let's hear it for the single dads of the world!

The New Year is upon us! Have a great day everyone and stay safe on the roads if you are driving.

Marge Gibson © 2009

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