I grew up in a rural community just south of the city of Vancouver. Homes were interspersed among farmland and acreage where residents grew strawberries, raspberries, beans, and potatoes. In fact, my very first paying job was as a picker and I was thrilled one year at about age 10 when counting my savings at the end of the season I realised that I'd earned about $65.00! That was a lot of money in those days, especially for a kid.
There were many varieties of birds in the area and we often saw pheasants fly over and sometimes we even saw them wandering around the neighbouring fields. One day, we were minding our own business inside the house when suddenly we all heard a horrific crash in the vicinity of the front window. My father went outside to find that a pheasant had hit the picture window and broken its neck. Taking full advantage of the situation, my father brought the dead bird inside and proceeded to illustrate how to prepare a bird for cooking. Without going into details because some of it was a bit discomforting, I'll just say that we had the most delicious meal that night.
I was reminded of that incident today when I discovered a pheasant in my back yard ("garden" for my British friends). It was wandering around the fresh bark mulch that had been laid beneath the pine, fir, and hemlock trees at the side of the fence. Rushing upstairs to get my camera, I lost my slippers and went outside in bare feet to grab some shots (photographic) before it flew away.
But as I watched it and took pictures, it simply wandered back and forth looking upwards towards the top of the fence. I wondered if it was hurt or had been frightened by the mangy cat that constantly trespasses on my property. Finally, it went behind the largest tree trunk and lay down.
Hmmm....what to do? Because of the overgrowth of trees and the claustrophobic nature of the fence along with the fear of the cats, I had no idea how the pheasant was going to get out of my yard. I could have opened the gate in hopes that it would wander out to the front. But then there was the chance it could get hit by a car.
So I phoned the local Humane Society which sent an animal welfare officer to my house. A lovely young woman, she was concerned that the pheasant could be hurt and wasn't able to fly. She thought she'd catch it and take it to Westham Island where it would be safe - that's where the bird sanctuary is located and hunting is forbidden.
However, as soon as she moved towards it, the pheasant flapped its wings and jumped over the fence, landing two lots over. We both assumed that it could fly if it wanted to, so just decided to let it get itself out of the neighbourhood.
I do wonder, however, if it would have tasted as good as the one my Dad cooked.
To read more about pheasants in my area, just click here.