Pictured above: My husband Jim setting an ingenious trap for the pea hen in the back yard (which you can see in the upper right quadrant of the picture).
So my pal Garrett tells an amusing story about The Bushy Tail Mafia (i.e., squirrels), and the "down side" of feeding wild life. I thought I'd add this little story about my family's encounter with a Pea Hen (a female peacock, doncha know) in 2004 at our old house.
At that time, my father in law lived with us, and he insisted on feeding not only wild life, but neighborhoods cats etc. despite our repeated requests that he stop. One day a wild pea hen made her way into our neighborhood, which my father in law
encouraged bribed to stay at our home by means of bread crumbs and peanuts.
At first we all admired the bird. So colorful, so stately! So large. Then we noticed copious amounts of bird shit all over the property. Lovely.
We tried shooing the bird off, and ignoring it, but it decided to roost in the tree in the back yard. It even occasionally made it's way to the roof, and we had a two story home.
Have you ever heard the mating call of a pea hen? It sounds like this:
"Uh--HONK! Uh-HONK! Uh-HONK!!!!"
And it is LOUD. Very very LOUD. And it makes this sound at all hours of the day or very very early morning, as our son Ethan discovered since the bird, roosting in the tree, was located just a few feet from his bedroom window on the second story.
We had to get rid of that bird.
I called animal control, and was told several interesting facts. To wit:
1. DO NOT feed wild animals, as they become dependent upon it and it will inspire the birth of more such creatures.
2....AND the food you leave out for the desired, "target" creature, such as migrating birds, will also attract Undesireables, such as rats and other vermin. (*Note: Much better to plant trees and bushes to feed indigenous birds).
3. AND (I found this last point most surprising) IF you feed a wild creature, you are in fact assuming RESPONSIBILITY for the creature, including the *financial* liability if said creature travels to the neighbor's yard and eats their plants or destroys their property!
Thus enlightened, I was disappointed to learn from animal control that "we don't pick up wild animals. We recommend a company that will, for a fee, come and humanely remove the creature from your property." The nice person on the phone gave me a phone number of a local outfit which I called next.
The animal removal company would be happy to come remove the beast. For over $200 dollars! Oh, and could we please try to sequester it in the garage for them first?
I politely declined.
Another call to animal control: What happens if we catch the beast ourselves and bring it to them? Will they kill it? (We didn't want it dead, just gone. ) I was told that No, they would release the pea hen into the wild, and it would cost fifteen dollars for them to receive and relocate the bird.
Allrighty then. We had a goal, now we needed a plan. Fortunately my husband has a bit of the MacGyver in him, and he immediately set about constructing a large trap made of a cardboard box, duct tape (of course), string and a bit of wood.
It was a thing of beauty, this trap. Simple and of cayote-versus-the-roadrunner ACME company utility and effectiveness. There was bait: A line of peanuts through the grass and straight into the box. Prop the flap-door open, bird walks in, Jim pulls the string, flap shuts door, --boom! Done.
"She'll never fall for it!" I thought. "Surely it is all too obvious! Even a bird-brain can see that!"
But that is precisely what happened, dear reader. Bold as brass, the bird slowly, carefully, nonchalantly, strolled into the box. Even with Jim off to one side, quiet and unmoving, trying to affect a bored and disinterested attitude.
Once inside, the deed done, Jim pounced on the door and duct taped it shut. Did the bird freak out, thrash about, squawk with fear and indignation? Nope! Not a peep!
Methinks this bird had been through this before.
Anywho, from there it was easy. We gently ferried the box to the truck bed and down to the animal control office. Inside, we saw several other citizens paying their fifteen dollars for a cat or dog gone astray, perhaps getting their pet out of hock.... nothing unusual. So it was not without a sense of misguided but sincere suburban pride when we said we were there with a pea hen to deliver.
We said our good byes to the Not a Pet, not without a little regret. Don't feed the wild animals, people, because you're in it for the long haul, then. Or at least fifteen dollars.