I wish my guineas, The Pearl and Mr. Cuteypants (named by my
6-year-old daughter) would learn to fly on purpose. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it? Most birds do it all the time. I imagine normal birds think about flying the way we think
about walking: “Oh, dear, there’s a dog I need to escape. I will fly to safety.” They fly to safety. “Now the dog is gone, so I’ll fly back to my
nest.” They fly home.
Guineas apparently lack such logical thought, because nearly
every day I have to help them solve some problem. A few weeks ago, I went out after dark to close the
hen house door. The guineas were absent. I found The Pearl inside the 6-foot-tall fence
surrounding the garden, and I found Mr. Cuteypants outside the fence opposite
The Pearl. Both birds had snuggled
themselves on the ground, separated only by the fence wire, for the night, ignoring the supposedly powerful
instincts they have to fly up to roost at night.
|The Pearl and Mr. Cuteypants|
I managed to chase Mr. Cuteypants into the pen with the
chickens, but I did not even try to get The Pearl out of the garden and into
the pen. I still have a scar on my leg
from the last time I tried to remove him from the garden at night. The next morning, The Pearl paced along the
fence in agitation because he was not with the rest of the birds. I went out into the garden and chased him
(keeping a safe distance from his claws) until he was sufficiently startled to
fly over the fence and out of the garden.
Another night, I had some of the chickens inside my fenced garden to do some clean-up work of frost-damaged bean plants. I put up a temporary fence to keep the chickens away from growing plants and to direct the chickens to sleep in the guinea castle my husband built in which the guineas refused to sleep. Somehow, because I put their favorite chicken, pictured below beside them on the roost, in the pen inside the garden, they figured out how to get inside the walled garden, inside the temporary fence, and into the guinea house.
|They got into the guinea house, but do you think they could figure out how to get back OUT of the garden in the morning? |
One evening, as I walked across the yard, I was astonished to see the guineas fly across the yard and onto the roof of the house. They seemed as surprised as I was by their sudden ability to fly to such heights. They walked around for awhile on the roof, and, despite my worries that they wouldn't figure out how to get off the roof and would stay there, squawking, all night, they did manage to figure out how to get off the roof.
The guineas appear to become alarmed about something and fly
out of the pen, without conscious thought.
Then they circle the pen, trying desperately to fit through the
electrified netting (which apparently does not shock them) the way they were
able to when they were smaller. Now they
cannot fit through the holes, and they cannot remember how in the world they
managed to get out of the pen. My
husband says I should just leave them alone, and eventually they will figure
out how to get back into the pen. That
may be true, but I do feel sorry for them when they are separated from the rest
of the flock and pace around the pen for hours while they try desperately to
get back inside.
|This is when I started worrying about whether or not they could figure out how to get off the roof...|
Every day I say something along the lines of, “Poor Mr.
Cuteypants. You really are too stupid to
live. God bless you.” Or, “Mr. Cuteypants, you goofy bird, stop
that!” My mother reminds Mr. Cuteypants
that he was once in the mouth of a blacksnake and that he should behave. He (she) doesn’t care.
Names notwithstanding, I think Mr. Cuteypants is a female,
because he (she) calls “buck-wheat!” or “pot-black!” when something unusual
happens. The Pearl has larger wattles
than Mr. Cuteypants, and does not say “buck-wheat.” He also tends to bully the other birds. Mr. Cuteypants scolds visitors to my home,
but he knows who lives here and doesn’t scold the residents.
My husband saw The Pearl running across the yard, with Mr. Cuteypants following behind him. Poor Mr. Cuteypants looked away, and The Pearl stopped running. Mr. Cuteypants rear-ended The Pearl, resulting in a squawking mass of feathers flying into the air as they scared each other. I saw Mr. Cuteypants trip over a root and fall on his face.
Mr. Cuteypants doesn’t scold our dachshunds either, but he knows
deer don’t belong in the yard. How he knows all this
but he cannot figure out how to fly on purpose is beyond me. The existence of guineas, with their crazy
behavior and wild punk rock spiked neck hair, are, along with dachshunds, proof
that God has a sense of humor.
This week, The Pearl redeemed himself for eternity for all his antics by chasing a hawk out of the chicken pen. A hawk descended into the pen, and all the chickens ran into the chicken house. Mr. Cuteypants flew out of the pen in agitation, but The Pearl fought against the hawk, scaring him away where he tried to recover his pride about twenty feet off the ground in a pine tree. The Pearl flew up near the hawk, continuing the attack, and the hawk flew away into the woods. Of course, at bedtime, I had to hold up the fence so The Pearl could slip under the fence and back into the pen with the chickens.