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The Crazy Chicken Story

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Have you ever had an experience that is so bizarre that it makes you question your grip on reality?

 About a month ago, I was walking my dog along the rural road where I live, just as I do early each morning. Suddenly, I heard a rustling sound from the weeds at the edge of the road near my feet. A moment later, a large bird emerged from the undergrowth and charged directly toward me and my dog! Needless to say, this behavior seemed most uncharacteristic for a bird!

 I recognized the bird variety as the common partridge or woodcock (often called a grouse in other parts of the country). It continued to dart about in bird-like fashion, not quite coming within reach, but making a clear effort to stay within an 8-10 foot radius of me. This despite the fact that my dog was clearly having visions of a chicken dinner!

 At first, I was intrigued by these strange actions. However, as I considered the danger that this bird posed to itself, I began to grow concerned. Struggling to divert the attention of my large collie, I proceeded down the road.

 The partridge followed us!

 Eventually, the bird retreated into the woods. I spent the remainder of my walk musing over this unusual experience. Although the bird appeared to be healthy and fully aware of my presence, I finally concluded that it was blind or otherwise injured, and couldn’t possibly survive for long. (For what it’s worth, I also considered rabies; but I’ve never heard of birds being carriers for that disease.)

 Fast forward one month: It happened again! In the exact same spot, at the exact same time of day, I was hectored by (presumably) the same bird! The bird still looks quite healthy: Its breast is plump and its feathers are sleek, so my injury theory is out the window!

 As entertaining as it might be to conclude that this animal is my “spirit guide” or some similarly bird-brained notion, I’ve decided that it has a brood of chicks hidden somewhere in the woods nearby and that it’s following its natural instincts in an effort to distract me from them. Most people have heard of how a duck will mimic an injured wing to draw a predator away from her chicks, and many people have observed this first-hand. I’ve personally experienced a similar behavior with a turkey hen and her chicks that I surprised along the roadside. On that occasion, I observed the chicks scatter into the undergrowth while the hen made an obvious attempt to divert my attention, staying directly in the center of the road for several minutes when she could have easily escaped into the woods. At no time, however, did the turkey allow me to come closer than 30-40 feet, whereas the partridge repeatedly came within 4-5 feet of me, not to mention my very interested dog!

 Nature: Beautiful, yet slightly screwed-up.

Written by mainecartoons

November 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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