Pheasants Under Ice

by kfrego

We had about two feet of snow on the ground when a fairly warm winter storm came in from the Great Lakes to the west. The storm started off with about six inches of heavy snow. During the night the storm turned to rain. By morning the rain had turned to sleet. Everything was covered with a layer of clear ice about three eighths of an inch thick. When walking to the neighbors we used a footpath through some old abandoned orchards. Something caught my eye because it didn’t look natural. There was a hump in the snow under the ice. There was something sticking out of the sleet at the hump. I walked through the snow with the layer of ice on top. The object making the hump was a pheasant and the tail feathers were partially exposed through the ice. The tail feathers were coated with solid ice.

Apparently the pheasant snuggled down in the snow while the storm passed. The sleet froze right on over it and had it trapped. It’s anybody’s guess as to how long it could have survived if the ice around it didn’t melt. The pheasant had to have been really terrified during my approach as every step was breaking ice. The pheasant never flinched as it was retrieved from the snow and ice. All of the upper body and feathers were caked with ice. I slipped the half frozen bird into my jacket and headed home with it.The pheasant created quite a stir at home. We got the ice melted. We towel dried the pheasant and returned it to the old orchard. All the time we handled it, the pheasant barely stirred. It wasn’t in any hurry to get away when it was released, but flew away after a few minutes.

During the course of the day three pheasants were found, dried, and released within the old orchard. All were found iced into the snow and made a complete recovery. The pheasants under the ice were a once in a lifetime occurrence. They were just victims of the sleet storm.

We all encounter strange things in life…………….but very few people will ever encounter pheasants under ice.