Posts Tagged ‘pheasants’

How would you like to give or receive a little something from nature this Christmas? Wouldn’t the shopping be easier? Wouldn’t the gift seem more unique?

In response to a suggestion from Sahlah to give one another virtual gifts from nature this season, Centria at Opening the Door, Walking Outside, has already offered up some excellent choices from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Yesterday was Black Friday in the US, a day known for crazy Christmas shopping. Wouldn’t a walk in the woods or along the beach seem a more fitting way to begin the holiday season?

So here are some virtual gifts from nature in Cow Bay to all Flandrum Hill readers and especially the regular commenters. Hopefully you’ll find something you like among these treasures.

The ring-necked pheasant feathers shown above were found in my yard where male pheasants often strut.  You could stick one in a hat or place a few in a vase. 

If you’re into novel fashion accessories, the mermaid’s purse shown at left might be just the thing for you even if you’re not a mermaid. 

Or perhaps a green sea urchin is more to your liking.  Found on the beach but sometimes in the woods where they’ve been dropped by seagulls, up close, each one reveals a five pointed star design.  They are delicate so don’t usually ship well, but seeing as these are virtual gifts, that’s not a problem.  Arranged in a bowl, they’d make a beautiful holiday centerpiece. 

If you’re into practical gifts, the opalescent sheen on this razor clam is bound to make any other shaver seem dull in comparison.

Still haven’t found anything you’d like?  Perhaps money is the gift for you then, in which case these sand dollars are sure to please! 

I sincerely hope you managed to find something you like.  And, if you’re Christmas shopping this weekend, you might want to reconsider that trip to the mall.  Maybe your perfect gifts are already waiting for you to find under the trees.

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male and female pheasant

 In the past week, pheasants with a death wish crossed my path twice on separate occasions while I was driving.  The first time, the corner of the vehicle caught a female who continued her flight into the woods after leaving a flurry of feathers in the air.  The second time, an enormous male came within inches of the windshield as he flew to safety across the road.  

Female Ring-necked Pheasant

There is an amazing wildness to the look of these large ground birds when seen up close.  Feather patterns are strikingly beautiful and eye and beak colours assumed to be a dull grey from a distance, are anything but.  

Although pheasants are visible year-round in Cow Bay, and are often seen crossing the roads in a leisurely manner, they seem even more out in the open at this time of year.  I don’t recall seeing so many females along the side of the road in years past.  I’m either getting better at spotting them or they’re getting bolder.  Maybe they’re just trying to get out of the woods where hunting season is in full swing for their species until December 15th.

Earlier this week I noticed a male working very hard at directing a female’s movements in the front yard.  I’m not sure what that was all about.  Mating season is over and males usually congregate by themselves as the winter approaches.   Maybe he was trying to tell her to stay here where it was safe, instead of wandering into the more dangerous woods.

Yesterday a ruffed grouse that didn’t want its picture taken suddenly appeared in the yard.  They are much more secretive than pheasants and quick runners.  Their feathers certainly help them stay well camouflaged, so it may have been hanging around for some time before I managed to see it. 

November’s shorter daylight hours bring about a change in the colour of snowshoe hares, making them easier to spot on the landscape.

Snowshoe Hare in November

A favorite resting area for them during the day is under the spruce and fir trees.  Although they’re visible year round, their lighter fur in the fall is more eye-catching than usual, even on grey rainy days such as this one. 

This particular one looks quite rounded and ready for the winter.  But if the snow doesn’t fly soon, it will have to be extra careful to keep itself hidden from predators.

Snowshoe hares, ring-necked pheasants and ruffed grouse are all hunted in Nova Scotia at this time of year. 

For more information on regulations regarding hunting small game in Nova Scotia, see http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/hunt/smlgame.asp

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The Tall Ships have been in Halifax all weekend, leaving today with a spectacular parade of sail.  This colorful display of ships from around the world was touted as the must-see event in Canada this summer.  A couple of centuries ago however, it wasn’t uncommon to see tall ships in the harbour, as they were the only mode of transportation to the New World.

pheasantMany non-native species arrived on this side of the Atlantic by tall ship.  Two among them, ring-necked pheasants and common periwinkles, have done so well here, that it’s surprising that they aren’t actually native to the area.

Ring-necked pheasants were first introduced to Nova Scotia as game birds in 1856 and once again in 1890.  Native to China, few survived the trip and those that did, didn’t do very well in the wild, although they had been successfully introduced in Europe.  An attempt was made to introduce them again in the early 1900s, at which time they were able to survive and multiply.

Pheasants now strut around the woods and roads of Cow Bay like they own the place.  They seem to feel very comfortable in our yard, especially in recent years.  The males’ crowing is very loud and has often awakened us at all hours of the night and early morning.

periwinkles on stone

Common periwinkles arrived here from Europe in the ballast of ships in the mid 1800s.  Walking along the shore today, it’s almost impossible to not spot them grazing on ‘green slime’ algae or sea lettuce. They cover stones and other available hard surfaces in the intertidal zone where they’re a favorite of shore birds and green crabs.

Introduced species that become pests are known as invasive species.  The Zebra mussel, another ballast stowaway, has risen to this status in North America.  Neither pheasants nor periwinkles are yet considered such in Nova Scotia.  However, as pheasants are no longer hunted in Cow Bay, their numbers are likely to become greater unless it becomes difficult for them to find tall grassy areas where they can nest undisturbed.  And as long as green crabs and shore birds are present along our shores, they’ll continue to keep the number of periwinkles in check.

I wonder if anything unusual came into Nova Scotia with the tall ships this weekend…

Collage of tall ships created from photos at http://www.tallships.com

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Pheasant Feather Patterns

Male Ring-necked Pheasant feathers provide a striking contrast against our Canadian landscape.  Along with the bird’s loud crowing, they call attention to the male so that the more camouflaged female can scurry off to safety when danger is sensed.  Imported from China in the 1800s, pheasants have made themselves right at home here in Nova Scotia.


For years I’ve been collecting the feathers that have fallen from both male and female pheasants in my yard in Cow Bay.  I’ve yet to find one of the emerald green ones that are present in their neck area, but I did recently find a couple of tail feathers, probably left as thank-you gifts for the seed they’ve enjoyed at my feeders over the winter months.

a variety of pheasant feathers

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