It wasn’t a chuckle I felt as I slowed down to watch a strange, somewhat inert bird squatting by the edge of the road. At first I thought it was a quail and let it go at that. I felt pleased that the bird was making a comeback.
However, a few weeks later my husband called the house asking that I come over to the grain bins across the road and look at a bird picking through some grasses on a nearby hillock. I grabbed my binoculars and bird book. Neither was helpful as the bird was approachable and nowhere in Peterson’s Guide did I find this bird.
Later in passing I mentioned to Mike Oman, a neighbor, the bird sighting. “Oh,” he said, “That’s a chucker!”
Apparently another neighbor raises them to work his hunting dogs. They are not indigenous but rather a Eurasian upland ground bird of the pheasant family. They are just as colorful as the pheasant but shorter coupled and more like a chicken. Whether it’s the same bird I don’t know, but he showed up again around our feed bin and then flew up on the garage roof once the dog spotted him. Haven’t seen him for awhile. Hope he survived the winter.
Another animal anomaly happened in Magnetic Springs when Mary Sprague began feeding squirrels stale Oreo cookies. Yes, the little critters take their agile human-like hands, twist the cookie open, and lick the creamy white inside first!
A not so cute scene, though quite natural I’m afraid, is the sighting of a bald eagle eating a new born lamb! We love the eagles and must take their affection for meat at face value; would we prefer that they stay up north and feast only on salmon, critters we don’t have much of here in Ohio! Well, there are steel-headed salmon in Cleveland’s Rocky River, but we enjoy their presence here on the Scioto where lamb seems a suitable substitute and a price we must pay.
Besides chuckers, squirrels, and eagles we have seen a pair of white swans swimming in flooded fields, mink inching along the Fulton Creek, a muskrat sunning himself after a deluge, and even a badger’s den complete with an undulating overgrown “groundhog” running toward it. We haven’t seen, however, bear or bobcats — yet!
Nature keeps our plate full. When you think you are full up of the ordinary, somebody dishes another helping of the extraordinary.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.