A Lady For Bert

DSC_0020At long last, we have procured a female Chinese Pheasant as a mate for Bert.

This lovely little girl is from the same farm Bert is from, and she is still pretty young and small. She proved just how small by slipping through the 2 by 4 inch mesh of the chicken pen about a half hour after being released. Since she can fly very well already I was sure she would just be instantly gone and I would never see her again. I’m so glad I stayed around to observe!

I nearly had a heart attack while I slowly tried to sneak up on her with my bird net. I’m convinced my time at the Raptor Center helped me with assessing her body language. Luckily I managed to nab her right as Mushrooms the cat walked nonchalantly by and scared her up to the fence. One good swipe and she was mine. Now she’s temporarily in a cage while I arrange a more suitable place for her.

DSC_0037Bert of course is overjoyed, and is glued to the side of the pen where her cage is located, displaying his beautiful plumage for her.  While she was loose in the pen with him he was very respectful, keeping his distance and not crowding her, which was nice to see. What a bird.

Plumage Progress

DSC_0053I’ve been posting about Bert a lot, but I really am fascinated to see the progress of his adult feathers coming in.

He has now lost most of his “headdress” or neck feathers, and the replacement pinfeathers are visible. He also has new pinfeathers over his eyes.

DSC_0044DSC_0045The last of his old tail feathers have fallen and the fresh pointy tips of his new ones are poking out. He’ll be a lot less agile once his full tail grows out, it will be more than twice the length of his body!

DSC_0031He seems to realize that his main job is to be gorgeous, and happily poses for the camera in exchange for treats. One of the cats even reached up to touch noses with him the other day and he barely flinched. What a bird.


More Colors For Bert

DSC_0010Bert the Golden Pheasant’s moulting is coming along nicely. He now has some iridescent teal and black feathers on the nape of his neck, and some royal blue ones coming in on his wings. He has more scarlet on his breast and most of his old tail feathers have now fallen out.

I’m training him to accept handling by first touching him a little on his beak or on his throat and then offering a treat. I will often offer him a tidbit of something green while I’m out in the yard. He only really likes the tender growing tips of plants.

I have a little whistling sound I use to call him that sounds similar to his own, and he now knows when I’m calling and will come over and jump up on the ledge for his treat. He knows better than to try to get treats from me while he’s on the ground because the chickens will trample right over him to get there first.


Bert is Getting His Colors!

DSC_0018I was a little unsure about adopting this guy, the previous owner had him housed with pigeons and doves, who he got along very well with. However, once she added a quail to her aviary, he decided to scalp her. This really upset the owner, and although the quail recovered, she had lost her taste for Bert.

It was around this time that I was having issues with my Muscovy drake trying to rape my Black Copper Maran hen. Apparently one duck wasn’t enough for him and he was getting very aggressive. I was worried about adding more male energy to the pen, not having any experience with pheasants.

Well, Bert is now my favorite bird here (hence acquiring a name) and his gorgeous colors are finally starting to come in! I think the intensely hot weather that we had been having for the past couple of weeks really fast-tracked the moulting process.


Some of Bert’s moulted feathers and a calendula bloom

I’ve read lots of conflicting opinions about whether or not pheasants can be housed with chickens and ducks. Some sources say that chickens carry diseases that can easily be passed to pheasants and kill them. Other people say that’s a load of puckey and they have housed them together for years with no issues. I’m not surprised he was aggressive with the Coturnix quail in his pen, since they are both game birds and a single quail is a tempting target that can’t really escape to higher ground. Here though, he is as placid a bird as you could imagine.

I’ve been finding a few of Bert’s moulted feathers around and they are just beautiful. I’m glad to see his broken tail feathers falling out because that means that new ones are coming in. His color change began with just a little red spot on his left breast and a few small red feathers under his chin. Now he has two scarlet stripes on each side of his chest and a few yellow bits on his head.

He will be two years old this summer which is around how long it takes for adult plumage to come in, even though he was fertile by his first year. It won’t be too long now before I find out if there will be a lady pheasant available for him, and that’s an exciting prospect. He is such a calm and non-spooky type of bird. he doesn’t react to sudden movements like most birds do, he just stands his ground and observes. He will happily come eat out of my hand every day now and seems to have no concept of human beings as dangerous. He gets along very well with the chickens and will eat alongside them. They will sometimes tell him to buzz off but he just saunters away and does something else. Not bad considering he is about the size of a large pigeon. He is also my quietest bird here so far, and I have only heard his distinct metallic call once or twice. The rest of the time he makes musical little chirps.

I think Golden Pheasants are a fabulous bird to have as a pet, and I would love to hand rear some chicks so they can grow up to be easily handled and free-ranged. I feel like when he finally gets his striking red, blue, white, yellow and green adult plumage, it’s going to be like living in some tropical paradise.


Poultry Update

DSC_0021Yesterday I drove out to the Quennel Lake Livestock Conservatory and picked up these two beautiful ladies. They are a pair of Welsumer (or Welsummer) hens.

Since lately I’ve been selling a lot of eggs to my neighbors, I needed to increase the production around here. Although these girls are in their third year, they are reported to still be laying well and were only $5 each. They are in lovely shape and will be laying eggs the color of wet terracotta. I was also told that they may go broody, so in that case I’ll probably find some fertilized eggs to put under them and see how they do.

DSC_0013Poor white chicken is going through a hard molt, the first hard molt I’ve ever seen here. She looks pathetic and her egg production has slacked a bit. Since she was at the bottom of the pecking order, she was delighted to have the two Welsumer girls show up so she could give them a few good pecks and move up the ranks. Other than that there seems to be no real squabbling amongst the hens. The new girls are sticking together and respectfully keeping their distance for now. The duck and the pheasant seem particularly interested in them.

DSC_0015The pheasant cock is still doing very well. He is a very calm and happy bird and makes delightfully musical little chirping noises. I have read that he will probably go through a molt this summer and that’s when his adult plumage will really come in. I’ve also read that it’s common for their tail feathers to get wet and freeze in the winter and get stepped on by other birds, causing them to break. I’m hoping that since he is now being kept in a covered run, that this will prevent further breakage. The tails are very impressive so it would be a shame for him to break it again. I’ve also hopefully lined up a lady pheasant for him this summer, from the same breeder that he originates from. Very exciting!

New Addition

DSC_0034Say hi to the new addition to the coop, a juvenile Red Golden Pheasant cock!

This little guy, also known as a Chinese Pheasant, is very sweet and tame, and is used to living in a mixed flock. He hasn’t developed his striking plumage yet, but that should happen this summer and it should be pretty spectacular! Hopefully his broken tail feathers will grow back at the same time.

I’ve read that it’s possible for pheasants and chickens to produce offspring, so I’ll be interested to see if he takes the “rooster” role as he matures. He’s a lot smaller than the hens, just a little larger than a pigeon.

I’ve also seen some people who free range their pheasants and have them return to the coop at night just like chickens will. I’ll have to see about that! In the meantime, he’s very quiet and cute and has settled in nicely after just a short time. Even with his juvenile plumage, he’s still very impressive.