I got the call around dinner time, Monday night. The guinea hen, or whatever it was that has been hanging out with two roosters in the area of E. Herman and Livermore, was spotted again. The police had called me about it two weeks before. This was the second time I was over there. This time it was trapped in Linda Rudawksi’s neighbor’s yard and had been strutting around, cackling all day long and attracting onlookers and a great deal of speculation about what kind of bird it was. Many of them thought it was some kind of turkey.
The roosters, Linda told me, were last seen headed down Herman towards Xenia Avenue and downtown.
I asked the kid if he wanted to help me catch the bird. Normally, he would demur on anything that took him away from online video gaming. But he considers himself a world-class chicken catcher and never passes on a chance to strut his stuff. I threw the cage in the back of the Outback and we were on our way.
We spotted the bird as soon as we turned the corner onto Herman.
“Stop the car and let me out!” the kid shouted upon spying exotic plumage.
Soon the chase was on. We tossed some cracked corn to the bird and it got close, but no closer than five feet or so. Every time we moved toward it, it would move away. We tried to corner it, but just when we would think we had it; it would fly away or rush past us like the Road Runner of cartoon fame. Passersby were taking note. A neighbor from across the street brought us blanket. That did the trick.
We got it into the cage and headed home. Once we got it into our backyard, we had to decide what to do with it. There were lots of opinions; none of them viable. Amy wanted to put it right in with the chickens. I thought it was way too soon for anything like that, so while we continued to ponder the problem, I placed the cage next to the chicken run, so the new bird could see that it would not be alone in its captivity.
While this was going on, the kid disappeared into the house and reemerged with his laptop in order to show off his conquest to his online friends. He was balancing the computer in one hand and repositioning the cage with the other when suddenly everything fell apart, literally. One of the sides of the cage came loose and the bird burst out and headed for the brush in the corner of the yard.
I was hopping up and down, cursing and the dog was barking as mother and son chased the bird around the yard with a net. Soon Amy had it and passed it off to the kid who held it down while I repaired the cage and we all took turns blaming each other.
What happened next was probably my fault. It was taking me too long to fix the cage, which needed much more work than I had originally thought. I told the kid I didn’t like the way he was holding the bird and suggested he readjust his grip. So, he let go of its feet and grabbed it by the tail. Soon he was left holding a hand full of tail feathers as the squawking bird flew about 20 feet up into a tree next to our house.
I was late for band practice and hadn’t eaten dinner.
“Leave her alone,” I said. “We’ll either get her in the dark or she’ll fly out of there tomorrow. Hopefully, she’ll end up in back in our yard."
When I came home, it had climbed farther up in the tree. There was no way to climb up after her. The next morning, it stayed put, taunting us with its two syllable call, “Buck wheat, buck wheat.” Amy put out food and water and we left it alone. I did an Internet search and learned that, indeed, what we had was a Guinea Hen. A couple hours later, we noticed that she wasn’t making any noise. We looked up into the tree and saw that she was gone. She was not in our yard.
Case closed? Not so.
It was dinner time again when I got another phone call. It was Shirley Kristensen who lives over on Meadow Lane. She told me how there had been a bird prancing around and making a racket in her yard all day. She said she thought it was a Pea Hen.
“It’s a Guinea Hen,” I said.
“Oh, really... How do you know?”
“Does it have a white head?”
“Yes. How did you know that?” she said.
I told her the story and offered to try to catch it again. But I was off to a meeting and would have to do it either in the dark after I got back, or in the morning. I was too tired for the hunt when my meeting was over, so I waited. In the morning, Shirley called to tell me the bird was gone.
“It’s probably still roosting in a tree in your yard,” I said.
“I don’t hear it.”
“Okay, I’ll be over to look for it.”
I spotted the bird as soon as I arrived at Shirley’s house. It was in a neighbor’s yard. It recognized me right away and took off running to a far corner. I drove around to Spillan and knocked on the neighbor’s door with my net in hand.
“Do you mind if I go into your backyard to catch a guinea hen?” I asked.
I got the okay and the chase was on again. It ended when the bird flew up into another tree and I gave up.
Amy was waiting in the car with the dog.
“That’s it for now, until I get another call,” I said.
Last night I got an email from Mek Logan, informing me that he had spotted a Guinea Fowl on Meadow.
"Is it yours?" he asked.
“I had it for about 15 minutes,” I replied.
This morning it’s on Facebook. I hope this doesn’t go viral!
Photos by Linda Rudawski
Chickens still on the run
Chickens on loose