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New bird on the block — Chapter 3

April 28, 2011

Peck, peck, peck, peck…peck, peck. I heard this sound while eating breakfast the other day and went to my front door to investigate. There he was — Ghedi the Guinea fowl —rapping his beak against the glass door as if to say, “Come on already — let me in!”

The white-faced, black-eyed creature has become a much bolder bird since adopting my neighborhood a year ago. He now visits often, regularly hopping up the front steps to check out his visage in the storm door, tooling around the yard at all times of day — even flying up to the roof of my house to hang out in the evening.

When I last wrote about Ghedi (GEH-dee), I noted that he had survived the first few snowstorms of the winter and that he probably was taking shelter in the lower branches of fir trees in the local woods. It turns out that the bird had been staying next door, where he first roosted in a tall maple tree, then moved to cozier lodgings in a spruce that borders my property and that of my neighbor, Joe.

Just before sunset one day, I watched as Joe chased Ghedi into his garage — a task that made herding ferrets look easy. When the temperatures started dropping and the snow accumulated, Joe and his family decided that it was time to take in the bird. They would let Ghedi out to wander during daylight, provided the weather was clear and the temperature was above freezing.

When Joe checked on Ghedi each morning, he would find the chubby fowl nestled on top of the front wheel of his motorcycle. (Does this mean that Ghedi is a biker bird? I can picture him riding in a motorcycle sidecar, his red and white wattles peeking out from his helmet…)

We began calling him “Garage Ghedi” and thanked Joe for turning his home into a Guinea fowl haven for the rest of the winter. Once the weather warmed up, the bird was back on the prowl — and noticeably tamer and more adventurous than he was last spring.

Ghedi occasionally wanders into my garage and stays for several minutes before it dawns on him that there’s no Harley to perch on. One day he tried to roost on a narrow handrail that borders my front steps, but every time he closed his eyes to snooze, he would lose his balance and wake with a startled look on his face. So much for that experiment.

One of his favorite pastimes is squatting in front of the glass doors and low-level windows of neighborhood homes so he can gaze at his reflection. While admiring himself one day, Ghedi came beak-to-nose with my cat, Lupe, who watched warily as the bird unflappably stood his ground on the top step.

While most of my neighbors are as charmed by this helmeted Guinea fowl as I am, there are exceptions. One man, who calls the bird “Guido,” considers him a noisy nuisance that should be captured and carted off to a farm.

But evicting Ghedi would mean losing a daily source of amusement for me, my husband and other residents who have grown to love the odd-looking animal.

True, he still wakes us sometimes with his raucous cackling (or as my husband puts it, his “cackle-honk”). But it’s a sound that, like Ghedi, has become familiar and comforting in its own quirky way.

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