Friday, July 06, 2007

Hunters and gatherers

Of all the possible ways to categorize the humans and animals on this planet, perhaps one of the oldest is to classify them as either hunters or gatherers. In the microcosm that is my yard, there are examples of both.

I fall clearly into the gatherer category, happy to eat a can of this or a jar of that to avoid grocery shopping one more day. Kim (I'll count her because she's here almost every day) usually gathers, but sometimes she's willing to drive miles to hunt for whatever it is she craves.

Butch is a gatherer, too. He waits until I finish eating, then thoroughly sniffs the chair in which I sat and the floor all around it, vacuuming up any stray crumbs he manages to find. (Sometimes I drop crumbs on purpose, just to build his self-confidence.)

Kadi gathers to eat, but she hunts for sport -- lizards, mostly. When the back door is opened, she bursts out onto the patio and does a quick search of the patio furniture, the rain spout, the screens on the window and the door, and the cracks between the fence slats. She's done this for ten years now, but it was only last week that she caught her first lizard. She held it to the ground with her nose and watched its legs and tail wave frantically for about three seconds, then she lifted her head and let it go. Mission accomplished.


Lucy is another gatherer. She collects every single fig that falls to the ground and every one she can reach on the tree -- even the green ones. She likes to pack her mouth full of them, then flop on her belly in the grass or, better yet, bring them in the house to eat. (She's actually a little fig obsessed, if you want to know the truth. She asks to go outside at least once an hour and always heads straight for the fig tree.)


And, of course, there's this guy -- part hunter, part gatherer:


It's his hunting tendencies that worry me. Where there are hunters, there are also the hunted, and I'm beginning to feel like he's stalking us.

I turned into the driveway at lunchtime today and saw what appeared from a distance to be a pile of rags laid up against the front of my house, right next to the front door. As I grew closer, the pile of rags raised its head and looked at me. The peacock was lying on the carport floor, presumably waiting for someone to come along and feed him. I had to wait for him to get up and move before I could park my car. These are the fluffy underbelly feathers he left on the doormat:


I fed him his lunch before I fixed my own and thought that might be it for today. Nope. Just as the six o'clock news began, the neighbors' dogs started barking their distinctive "oh-no-not-that-bird-again" bark, so I looked out the front door and there he stood.

This time I picked up the camera when I went to get his trick-or-treat bag and managed to get one very short video:



I spent about ten minutes feeding my bright-blue buddy his evening meal, then stopped because something caught my eye and convinced me there's a downside to having a peacock for a friend. Here's a picture of the trunk lid of my car:

Those foreign objects laid out in a row from one side to the other? Yup! That's peacock poop. Lots of peacock poop.

17 comments:

  1. aww, ain't that sweet? He's blessed your car! Either that or he's staking his territory-a warning to other peacocks that this is HIS place.

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  2. Janet, "sweet," yeah, that's it. If you see me on here asking for peacock recipes, you'll know I've had all the "sweet" I can stand.

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  3. Lucy is sweet. But then again I am a total animal lover. Good post today!

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  4. Palm Springs Savant, welcome! Lucy IS sweet. She's a cuddler, too, if you don't mind fig breath.

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  5. actually my chickens are not trouble. they give me something to do and think about just like you and your blind dog.

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  6. Patsy, I said "hard work," not "trouble." Before you educated me about raising chickens, I'd always thought all you had to do was toss them a little food and provide a water source, and they more or less took care of themselves. I never realized what complicated creatures they are, with individual personalities, and that you have to be concerned about which ones get along, etc. I find it interesting and certainly didn't mean to imply that they aren't worth the effort they require. It's obvious to those of us who read your blog how much you enjoy them.

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  7. Duly Inspired, not only is that BIG poop, but he must have been standing on my car with his BIG toenails. No scratches I could see, but I was not happy to find out he'd been up there long enough to leave that much of a mess.

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  8. Stop feeding that bird so much fiber filled treats Velvet.
    While watching the video Cap came to see why another dog barked in his house!

    When Cap goes outside he first makes sure there are no squirrels in his yard. There better not be any squirrels in the yard. He doesn't let them go like your good dog lets the lizards go. There is kicking and what not but it stops....ugly I tell ya, it's ugly. He has decreased the squirrel population by dozens since I've been here. "Bad boy! Let him go Cappy, let him go!" It's awful. Thank goodness my roommate is okay with dead body removal duty. If it weren't for Barney Fife squirrel carouses would be everywhere. I'm not picking them up. ewwww

    Austin

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  9. Have you ever seen the Robert Altman movie Brewster McCloud? It was released in the early 70s, so it's a bit dated now, but oh was it funny then. It has much to do with birds...

    I've never known anyone who had a peacock for a friend. Cool.

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  10. Velvet, WOW... I love the video... Still, I wouldn't feed our flock out of my palm. They love grapes by the way...

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  11. Oh, the video was the best! Just like I was there. I hope with the peacock poop, you don't get a peacock scratch! I think Mr. Pea needs a name!

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  12. i punched blog at top of my pageyesterday, i do this often looking for a new interesting blog. your color page came up. i never gave it much thought but you are the only one i know that has this template.
    i thought VELVET, being old i forgot i hadn't punched your name, so i started to read or try to read. i thought of my velvet has had a stroke. the typing and spelling was terrible. then i noticed this was a site for a young man. i am sure he was trying to act smart because no one could be that dumb. sure was relieved you had not had a stroke.

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  13. I've been thinking you must really love that peacock... he just hadn't yet really made himself 'at home'!

    Or wait... first puncture, now poop. Could it all be the result of profligate peacock plotting?

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  14. Austin, that's funny about Cap looking for the barking dog. Our dogs actually recognize that bark, so it confuses them, too.

    I can't tell you how glad I am that I don't have to worry about disposing of dead squirrels. Yuck!

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    Wiz, I haven't seen the movie but looked it up on the Internet after reading your comment. The reviews were specific enough to help me understand how you made the connection. ;-)

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    Creekhiker, I guess we'll have to get some grapes for him. He's getting picky. Yesterday Kim took out two kinds of treats, the one we've always given him and a new kind. After tasting the new kind, he started refusing the others. She'd hold one out, he'd approach it, then jerk his head back and wait until she held out the new kind again. Spoiled, do ya think?

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    Sister-Three, I think your name for him, "Mr. Pea," suits him just fine. Although he might prefer "Master Pea."

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    Patsy, no stroke yet, thank goodness. My greatest fear is that someday old age will loosen my inhibitions to the point that all the curse words and other nasty things that cross my mind will fly out my mouth. If you start reading things like that, you'll know I'm pretty far gone.

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    Third-Cat, perhaps, but the peacock plots at his own peril. He's punctual and persistent in his pleading for provisions, but we're perceptive and will push to prohibit his planned appropriation of our premises. It pains me to ponder it, but if we pinpoint proof that his puncture and poop were part of his plan to preempt the power of the people who presently provide for him, I predict poison may enter the picture. What a predicament!

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  15. I just love it when you post pictures of the peacock, as I've never seen one in 'real' life. I was talking to a woman last week, who lives down in the valley, and she was telling me she lived on 10 acres and had peacocks. I asked how she kept them there, and she said that if you feed them, they'll never leave. That they told all their neighbors when they got the birds, (and tell any new neighbors they get) not to feed their peacocks - because if they do, the peacocks will never leave. Pretty fickle, aren't they?

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  16. Jackie, I know of at least three other neighbors who are feeding this bird, so he may be moving from place to place depending on who's giving him the best treats. Fickle, indeed.

    Last Sunday afternoon, I was watching TV in my living room and saw him running back and forth in front of the window (it's low), trying to look in. I fed him then but haven't seen him since.

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