To deceive a friend
I see a white bird staring at me through the holes of a gate to the main garden. There is sadness in his eyes, accusingly asking me ‘why?’. Our beloved silver pheasant which was liberated from his cage after a nightly attack of a python, felt obliged to protect staff and family from aliens, i.e. tourists and taxi drivers. He became king of the restaurant section, sitting at chairs staring at lunch guests with dislike and attacking tourists and garden school students. Although most guests found a close encounter with such a handsome bird amusing, we could not allow such impolite behaviour which seemed to increase over time. With united forces we managed to trap him in a chicken dome which we moved out into the main garden.
The Dokmai Garden silver pheasant, named ‘Jann’ after a gardener with a limp, spent one week in this prison. We wanted him to get accustomed to the new surroundings, and to allow the other birds, a royal rooster with his harem and four silly guineafowl, to get used to him. Little baby chicken could walk through the mesh to visit the prisoner. They tasted his rice which was hardly touched by the shocked inmate. A week later we released him in the monsoon woodland, hoping he would appreciate and stay in his new environment which is full of trees and leaf litter with juicy bugs. Not many minutes after his release he was back in the restaurant garden again, crying of anger and surprise that his rice bowl was gone. We chased him out again, and this time he stayed. He has slept in a longan tree for two nights now, dreaming of his old home tree (the mango behind our teak house). When I see him he stares at me accusingly, and I try to buy his friendship back by offering rice. His dinosaur brain is probably puzzled, trying to figure out why his human family which he protected so well suddenly chased him away. His affection and protective behaviour was indeed like that of a watchdog.
We believe that to make him truly happy again, he needs a woman. If any of the readers of this blog knows of a legal breeder of silver pheasants in northern Thailand, please let us know.