January 18, 2002


We tend to look at a flock of birds or a group of deer and think that all of the individuals are pretty much the same, with the same behavior and personalities. Not true.

I maintain a feed station near my home that I use to bring in, study and photograph wildlife. It provides me with great opportunities to watch everything from turkeys, rabbits, flying squirrels, red squirrels, black squirrels, fox squirrels, deer, ermine, fox, pheasants, hawks, raccoons, opposoms and a variety of song birds. The more I watch these animals and the more I become familiar with them the easier it is for me to discern their personalities.

Today I moved with in six feet of a hen pheasant. This particular pheasant is by far the boldest of the pheasants here. Most animals have a certain space around them that they are uncomfortable letting you inside of. Many of the other pheasants will run if I'm with in 30 feet and they are in the open (if they feel that they are well concealed in brush then it's a totally different story). This hen is unusually tolerant. I really don't know if she feels a certain level of trust, or she is just that much braver than the others or what.

The same hen will stay at the station longest when I refill the feed, sometimes letting me get within two feet before she trots off (unless really scared most game birds, like pheasants, grouse and turkeys prefer to walk from one place to another instead of flying).

When turkey flocks come in it is fascinating to watch all the personalities in the flock. There is constant jostling between the meek and the pushy, and it is seperated by sex. The Toms are busy maintaining a hierarchy among the males and the hens are doing the same within the females. The younger, subordinate birds will frequently coming running in full tilt to try to get as much feed as possible before the dominate birds come in. Obviously the dominate birds act this way to get more food, but sometimes it back fires. I've watched birds that were so intent on chasing off the others that they didn't get to eat.

While watching wildlife I've seen the whole spectrum of personalities. I've seen the bold and the timid, the protecting and the domineering, the curious and the cowards, the bullies and the buddies, the coveters and the sharers.

January 21, 2002

January 17, 2002