30 April 2019


Each summer, Poppy Peahen lays eggs.

Lots of batches in small, shallow scrapes in the back garden. One big nest of eggs was laid six feet away from Rex’s dog run.
Poppy stayed immobile for most of each day. She left the nest to drink, crap, flap and snack for 5 minutes every other afternoon. If the dog came home within that time, she would run like a chook unable to go back to the nest.

More intelligent, Rex knew where the eggs were. He’d stare at them from inside his enclosure, yawning and licking his lips.

I took her eggs away when the temperature reached 40 degrees. They were unfertilised and staying as still as a marble statue in intense summer heat took it out of the Peahen. 

Like any woman who has just endured a dodgy starvation diet, after she’d abandoned the nest Poppy would be ravenous. She needed to binge a while and regain her strength.

It took weeks for Poppy’s claw foot to heal after the last goanna attack. She stuck close behind the fig tree, by the back door, or roosted in a gum tree each night. I fed her extra everything; not complaining as much about her being a poop machine

Sometimes when I stole her eggs, she would lay another lot within a week. When I gathered those as well, Poppy became so hungry she’d peck corn from my hand. Walking through the garden, the big bird followed close to my heels. Clucking away like a broody hen, she kept me company outside.

My son woke to find a chorus of Magpies harassing Poppy  outside his bedroom window. Andy Serkis’s portrayal of Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy might help you comprehend how the  Peafowl felt. The black and white birds tried to take her precious food. Simultaneously starving, healing and building her weight up, seeing them steal was too much.  Poppy stepped up. 

When a brave Magpie got between her and her grain, she lifted the good leg and stomped on his neck. The peahen was 20 times larger than the pie, though with a pea-sized head and half its  brain capacity. The captive Maggie made strange gurgling sounds. His mates left, and when released he shot through too.  

My son was excited he’d seen Poppy kicking black bird arse

I was disappointed to miss seeing her being assertive.

Magpies never go near the backyard now. Smart birds with long memories, they might have twigged that hell has no fury like a hungry, hungry bird

P.S. On deprivation diets in my time I empathised with Poppy. 
I remember what it is to be hangry; though I never stepped on anyone’s neck.
Not yet anyway.

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