If I needed any confirmation that chickens and pheasants belong on the same family tree, I got it yesterday.
The Cluckers and I were out in the garden, taking advantage of a rare sighting of the sun. The female pheasant was doing the same thing in the field behind our garden. In fact she was having a dustbath. It was a long, luxurious, thoroughly self-indulgent affair. Had she been human, there would have been lots of perfumed bubbles; probably a glass of wine on the side too.
Her husband was pottering about at the far end of the field, but noticed madam finishing her ablutions. When she stood up and shook all the dust off, he came hurtling over. As he drew near he suddenly stopped, dropped his wings and danced sideways over to her. It could have been Fizz! The similarity became even more evident when Mrs Pheasant totally ignored her husband's advances.
To my surprise, the chicken comparison didn't end there. One of the pheasant daughters chose that moment to jump up on my wall and into my garden. She'd noticed me all right, but she'd also noticed the corn which my chickens hadn't yet got round scoffing. She obviously thought that what was sauce for the goose was also sauce for the .... er ..... pheasant and tucked in.
Pom-Pom noticed a strange pair of feet in her limited field of vision, took a couple of steps towards them, then thought better of it. After a while, Irene noticed the intruder too. She sauntered to the edge of the lawn, took a long, hard look at the pheasant and decided she had better things to do than chase strangers. But that was it. If any of the rest of them noticed the foreigner in their midst, they were far too polite to say anything. Fizz didn't even see her.
She kept glancing at me but as I stayed still, she kept right on eating. When there was nothing much left, she rejoined her parents.
Her mum and dad are usually just outside my garden at around 4 pm every day. So I've got into the habit of throwing them a handful of corn. The cock pheasant now comes running over when he sees me, but the hen is a bit more reticent. So he calls her over. As he's pecking away at the corn he chunters, just like Fizz does when he's telling the girls he's found something nice for them (even though it's often just a dead leaf).
I wonder if Miss Pheasant will make a habit of dropping in for afternoon tea?