The Curious Incident of the Pheasant Coucal

On Tuesday I was driving along the Highway in my little VW Beetle. It is a scenic, level road out in the countryside with cattle paddocks on one side and woodlands the other. I’d just picked up the children from their small rural school, about 20 km from our home at Woodgate Beach.

Driving at just over 100km/hr I saw a Pheasant Coucal flying down low over the road. I quickly braked but heard the sickening thud of the largish bird hitting the front of the car. I didn’t stop to check on the bird as it was too dangerous to park by the side of the road.

My mood plummeted as I drove home. Stupid bloody birds, I thought, can’t they see my bright red car.

It was the kids Christmas concert that night so when we got home we quickly got our stuff out of the car and went into the house. The kids had afternoon tea and then we took the dogs for their walk and swim down the beach. Got back inside, washed the dogs off and I went to check on the chickens. Filled up the water trough, collected the eggs and went into the garage to fill up the chicken feeder with growing mash.

As I entered the garage I had a strange feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I heard a muffled sound like a puppy in a cardboard box. I looked at the car and saw something that was just not right. I saw the head and neck of a Pheasant Coucal and a strong black beak opening and shutting. My blood pressure dropped suddenly leaving me a little giddy. What the hell was going on?

I looked again to make sense of the situation and realised that the Pheasant Coucal had wedged in behind the plastic grill at the front of my car. The head and neck were at the front, the body and flapping wings were behind the grill. Bizarre!

Being a smooth calm operator I immediately panicked and ran across the road to implore help from my kindly neighbour Allen. He was mowing but stopped when he saw me gesticulating like a mad woman. We’re both bird lovers but knew that the kindest thing would be to put the bird out of its misery. Using an old piece of material my neighbour carefully extricated the bird from the grill, long tail feathers dropping in a sad pile. Allen took the bird back to his place to kill with a blow from a spade.

I was upset but relieved that I was not the one doing the mercy killing. Later Allen came knocking at the door with blood stained material in hand, a morose look on his face. ‘You’ll never believe what happened’ he said, ‘I put the bird down to hit it over the head and it darn well flew off.’

“What!’ I exclaimed
‘Yes, and then the neighbours bloody cat got it’.
‘What!’ I gibbered.
‘Yes, and then I saved it from the cat and took it into the bush out front and it flew off again’.

I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. It probably didn’t even make it through the night, but you never know, maybe Pheasant Coucal’s have 9 lives like the cat.

24 thoughts on “The Curious Incident of the Pheasant Coucal

    • I can’t get the picture out of my head of the birds beak opening and shutting. It was like something out of a Hitchcock movie. I thought of your first blog posting about your poor chickens, when I wrote it today.

  1. Wow, what a great story and brilliantly told. Kept me intrigued right up to the end. True and unpredictable. And this is Australian, “Stupid bloody birds” and made me smile. There was a red bellied black snake in Queen Street in the city today, first time I’ve ever seen that.

  2. what a wonderful story, true happenings and more than usual serendipitous events. i believe that bird had a message for all of we who read this story. everything is always not what you would think, and the ends to whats out of sight are unknown and even less predictable

    • Welcome tipota – you are right, the bird as messenger and omen. My life is full of strange happenings and serendipitous (great word by the way) events. I always have people gasping for air when I tell my families true life stories.

  3. Apparently the bird was destined to not meet its demise via your car or Allen’s mercy effort–nor by that cat at that time. What an interesting intersection you’ve experienced. wow..

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