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Talking it over: why did the pheasant cross the road?

A large number of pheasants, at times I have counted nearly 50, gather in a field along the tar road on my way into town. That field still has corn stubble left overs from last falls harvest. The pheasants obviously enjoy the leftover feed in the field and peck away steadily. Nearly every morning lately, I have enjoyed watching these birds. However, I am constantly aware that they can, and will, dart across the road unexpectedly.

On these occasions I wonder why they need to cross the road. There is obviously more feed on the one side  than on the other side of the road because that field is plowed and covered with snow. Perhaps they are crossing to get some gravel off that side of the road even though there is plenty on each side. It reminds me of the on-going question ‘why did the chicken cross the road?’ The most common answer is simple. To get to the other side.

Even though I have to take care and try to avoid hitting one of the these pheasants, I really enjoy seeing them there and especially the large numbers. I would have to say that this species is currently not in any danger of extinction and should produce another large bunch of babies next spring.

I also have to admire the conservation practices that allow these birds to feast on the corn stubble all winter. This field is typically not plowed or tilled in the fall and in the spring the new seed is drilled directly into the stubble from the previous year. It not only helps for erosion but also helps the animals in the area.

Hopefully the winter will continue to be good for the pheasants and other wildlife in the area. Winter is on the downward swing now so hopefully they will all make it until spring. Then miraculously these large numbers of wildlife seem to disappear into the surroundings, with rare spottings throughout the year. It surprises me that with this many birds in one area, we can never seem to find them during hunting season.

I guess they have found some good hiding places and know when to stay put and wait until the scene is safe. They may be smart during those seasons but they certainly aren’t very wise when they decide to cross the road in front of vehicles. Maybe when hunting is over, they let down their guard and wander aimlessly through the winter.