Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Mystery Bird

Having grown up in a city, I am not familiar with different types of wild animals. I can readily identify dog, cat, bunny, squirrel, bug, or bird, i.e. robin. Any animal existing outside those parameters, I have trouble with.

OK, I jest. I can also identify zoo animals such as horse, sheep, elephant, giraffe, and tiger.

Back in the city, I loved to go for walks. Most of my neighbors did too. It was almost a social event to stroll down a mile long length of avenue in front of a local college. People would drive by, honking and waving at pedestrians they knew. Almost everyone walked with a friend or relative and the more people who greeted you, the more popular you appeared to your walking companions. Did we ever run into wild animals? I swallowed a mosquito once on my walk.

When I moved to this small rural Utah town, I wanted to keep up with my nightly walks.

The first night, I set out at about 9:00 p.m., like normal. I walked about a half block before I realized I was not in Iowa anymore.

First, there were no sidewalks. Second, there were very few streetlights. I realized that I either had to walk in the street and risk getting hit, or I had to walk on the property owner's yard, close to the street. In the dark. On the bumpy gravel and grass parking area in front of each house.

I got about a block away from home when I heard a strange noise. In the darkness I could not see the origin of the sound, so I tried to determine the source by listening carefully.

Snort. Wheeze. Cry.

I tried to hold on to the neighbor's fence, but something brushed my hand. I yelped.

Walking quickly home, I cursed this small town and its lack of proper walking facilities.

I told my husband about my escapade. The next day, he drove me past the route I had walked. I pointed out the place where I had stopped, due to getting assaulted by strange noises and caresses.

"That's what scared you? The neighbor's sheep? Ohh, baaa, baaa!" He couldn't stop laughing, apparently thinking my frightening experience was hilarious. From then on, whenever I heard a strange noise, he would taunt, "Maybe it's a sheep!"

Animals are a common sight around here. On another occasion I saw two sheep trotting through the town, looking as if they were just headed over to Little Bo Peep's house for some tea and gossip. Another time, when I risked a daytime walk, a horse nearly gave me a heart attack when he stormed the fence next to where I was walking, then stopped suddenly, throwing up a cloud of dust in my face.

During the winter months, walking across your yard in the dark could bring you face to face with several deer, intent upon ravaging what's left of your garden or lawn. And like the sheep, deer feel completely comfortable prancing down main street at dusk. They say that deer frighten easily, but I don't believe it. I have on occasion, sat in my car, honking for deer to get out of the road. They look at me arrogantly as if to say, "Please remove yourself from my grazing path you lowly piece of tin."

It was no surprise then, when I encountered these two birds walking down the street the other day. They are not robins but I assume they are birds. They did not fly, but rushed down the sidewalk, intent on reaching their destination. Computer Geek, who has raised many birds in his life, including chickens, peacocks, ducks, geese and a pigeon, had no idea what they were.

Are they turkeys? Chickens? Peahens? What are these mystery birds?

What say ye, denizens of the Quang?


  1. They're guinea, Randi. My grandpa had them and they make the loudest screeching/honking noise I've ever heard.

  2. Brenda: Wow! Thank you! Is that a kind of chicken then? Or is guinea a totally separate bird?

  3. i came here to let you know I have no idea. I truly only know dog, cat, kid and hubby. why that would be because that's who lives with me. Any other animals, I scream like a little girl and run away.

  4. I'm glad that Brenda had an idea. I'm clueless in that department. Imagine a city girl like me trying to figure out wildlife? I would've freaked out with the sheep encounter too:)

  5. Daisy and septembermom: My city sistahs! My comrades! My fellow wildlife wimpies! Thank you for validating my urban-ness.

    Daisy: Wow, you have me beat on the animal lack-of-recognition scale. I'm proud of ya! Keep on the way, did I ever tell you that my brave,brave Auntie M. has an alligator in her backyard?

    septembermom: I too am glad that Brenda knew. Now the next time I see those birds trotting down the street, I can say with confidence, "Ah, there go the guinea." And some poor city girl will say, "I thought guinea were pigs?" And I will laugh my head off at her ignorance. Bah ha ha! (Brenda, I owe you a BIG one.) Wow, can you imagine the squawking that would have been heard had we BOTH been nuzzled by those sheep?

  6. Good to be back - I take sick leave for a few weeks and come back to....weird birds! I'm with Brenda on this one. I'm a bird lover, but usually only those I can see in the garden, around town or at the coast.

    I thought our apartment in Portugal had a bat invasion once, but it was huge shadows cast by moths flying close to the central light; we could only see the wall from where we were standing, not the actual light or the moths.

  7. "Guinea fowl, a bird related to the pheasant, is native to Africa but has been domesticated in the United States and other countries. The common guinea fowl is about the size of a small plump hen. Its naked head is topped by a bony ridge. The bird has slate-gray plumage dotted with round white spots. Guinea fowl were originally kept by farmers because their noisy cries warn other poultry of approaching danger." (internet)

  8. Janice: Ooh, that's a spooky moth story! I hate moths as it is (they always seem to flutter up in my face when least expected) but to to see their shadows magnified sounds like something out of a scary movie!

  9. Brenda: Thanks for solving our mystery! So it's related to the pheasant. That is so interesting that they were kept as a kind of alarm system to warn the other birds of danger. That must be that screeching/honking noise of which you speak. The ones I saw were just trucking on down the road, with some destination apparently in mind. Or maybe they were escaping! :)


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