Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Pleasant/Pheasant Surprise

35 F, sunny

On Friday morning, after dropping my youngest son at school, I pedaled north along the waterfront bike path. I wanted to check to see if the path was free of snow. There was some still built up along the edges in the usual place.
A bit north of here there were three short patches of crusty snow completely across the pavement, but I was able to pedal through them.

The morning was very pretty without a blustery wind which is very common along Lake Champlain. I was able to listen to the gulls and geese. I always enjoy early spring and late fall on this trail. Leaves have yet to obstruct the view of the lake.

Up ahead in the shadows a big bird strutted onto the path.
At first I thought it was a Canadian goose. Then it ambled into the sunlight. It wasn't a Great Blue Heron. It had long tailfeathers with a greenish and colorful body and a distinctive red waddle on its head. It made it's way off the path and quietly disappeared into the brush. As I slowly went by I couldn't locate the bird in the undergrowth.

I mulled over what I had just seen as I made my way to my turnaround point at the bridge across the Winooski River.

I wondered if I had seen a turkey. But something about it wasn't quite right. As I made my way back the bird was there again! I stopped and watched it for some time then slowly pedaled. The bird started running and amazingly stayed just ahead of me for about 150 feet before taking flight for a few yards. Then it disappeared once again off the trail never to be seen (by me) again.

As soon as I got home I looked it up in my Birds of North America book. It was, unmistakeably, a male ringed-neck pheasant. There was no other bird quite like it, especially with the beautiful long tail.
photo credit: George F. Mobley, National Geographic
This bird is common across the northern regions of the United States. In 1857 it was introduced from Asia into California as a game bird. Other states soon followed California's lead. I knew there were many in Vermont, but I had never seen one before.

It's truly miraculous and often inspiring what you can see from a bicycle. This pheasant made my day!

1 comment:

  1. More pheasants: http://www.google.com/search?q=ringneck+pheasant&hl=en&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=7wShTf_TKsKW0QGH54CHBQ&ved=0CCsQsAQ&biw=1233&bih=640

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