So, we have a pheasant in our dining room! After a few days of our denial (I really wanted our chick to be a chicken), his identity was confirmed courtesy of the many images to be found on the internet. Then, a bit of a quandary presented itself: should we try and take him to the local farm where he may have come from originally or would a rescue centre be best? I couldn’t help feeling that having had him indoors under a brooding lamp and intense human scrutiny for ten days that we’d meddled with nature enough and that he ought to go back where he probably hatched. So on Sunday morning, James, the two Labs and I strolled down to the farm down the end of our lane, hoping to resolve the chick situation. Knocking on the door, we couldn’t help feeling a little silly – I’m sure they’ve loftier concerns than the welfare of one pheasant chick. It turned out they were in Norfolk, so we returned home.
The orphan chick needed a change of bedding, so James caught and held him while I lay some straw in the brooder on top of fresh corrugated cardboard and constructed a climbing frame of twigs so the wild bird, in the absence of playful mates, has some form entertainment. He looked remarkably calm in James’s hand – it was probably a relief to be out of the brooder. Large and strong enough now, he no longer needs the warmth of the brooding lamp, so we switched that off and placed him back his freshly furnished digs to skip about at tremendous speed.
Yesterday morning I rang a lady who rescues birds in the hope that she might take our fledgling pheasant on. ‘I don’t really deal with game birds,’ she explained, ‘more swans and other waterfowl.’ Hardcore, I thought to myself. Suddenly, our diminutive charge seemed pretty easy to look after. She confirmed we’d done pretty much the right things by it so far and we should pop him in the spare outdoor run in a fortnight or so and release him into some woodland, or in the willow land at the end of the garden, when he’s old enough to fly. So that’s our new course of action and we’ll be adoptive parents to a pheasant for the next few weeks – I’ll relish this particularly as we’ve lost a couple of members of our flock of hens lately, so it’s cheering to be rearing a bird at the same time.