Bird feeder (Photo credit: Matt Peoples)
There is a Pheasant in my backyard.
Or a Grouse.
It comes and goes, from backyard to backyard. The one behind ours has a bird feeder, so it visits there often. And from what Jim, my neighbor two doors down says, it’s taken up residence behind an Oleander in his yard.
I took photos, to document this odd phenomenon in the dry desert. But the photos show what looks like a pile of rocks amid a bunch of rocks. Desert landscaping will do that.
Either way, Pheasant or Grouse, it just isn’t normal to see a bird this size, here in the crazy heat part of Arizona.
“Pheasant populations persisting in Arizona are largely confined to agricultural areas having a relatively high humidity (e.g., citrus orchards in the Yuma and Mesa areas) or high enough in elevation to escape the desiccating heat of Sonoran Desert summers. In such locations, a rooster will acquire a harem of from one to three hens, with mating commencing in early April. By mid-May most of the hens are nesting and of no further interest to him, and he will abandon his territorial patrols by the end of the month. The peak of hatching is during the last week of May, the most arid time in Arizona, which is one of the reasons why pheasants have not become established here”
Female pheasant (Photo credit: scyrene)
Based on photos, a bit of research and some common sense, I’ve decided this odd duck of a bird is a female Pheasant. Grouse tend to hang out up on the Mogollon Rim, high country as we call it here.
I feel bad for this bird. Clearly, she’s out of her element and won’t do well when the heat really settle in, unless she can find her way to a citrus orchard somewhere in the area. The nearest ones are about five to eight miles away.
I’m always amazed at how wildlife adapts itself to the intrusions and weirdness of humans.
At the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When we first moved to Arizona fifteen years ago, it was fairly common to see a Fox trotting through an open field. It was much more common to see open fields that many years ago. The housing boom hit Phoenix with a vengeance and most of the open areas around us disappeared in about four months, give or take a year or two.
I often saw Jackrabbits of a substantial enough size that I’d do a double take. I’ve seen a Mountain Lion at the Riparian Preserve. The “Rip” borders a canal which is significant. Lined with a dirt road or even asphalt or concrete paths, the canals here are like an open invitation to wildlife from the foothills to come on down and play the city game. Poor misguided critters!
I’ve noticed some people seem to have wandered from their normal habitat into the suburbs and cityscape. These are people who prefer solitude , silence and privacy. I think sometimes I am one of those misplaced creatures.
The sound of sirens, the constant hum of traffic, crowds, stress of every hue, all combine, sometimes, to make me wish I lived in the mountains in a secluded cabin with a well hidden dirt access road.
I feel a bit misplaced and out of my element.
But I’ve adapted. I grow wildflowers. I have a backyard garden. I have a hummingbird feeder. I disappear into other worlds through books. I enjoy what music I can find in the suburban bird chatter of Dove, Grackle, Finch, Towhee and Mockingbird. I visit nearby open spaces and green areas. I walk. I ride my bike. I dream of the mountains.
I wonder if the Pheasant in the backyard feels the same way.
Wish I could help her find her way back to where she belongs without upsetting the natural order of things.
It could happen.