PEI

'The only chance for these little guys:' Farmers raise pheasants from abandoned eggs

A nest of abandoned green eggs discovered this spring in Iona, P.E.I., has successfully produced three baby pheasants, after they were rescued and incubated by local farmers.

'It was the only chance for these little guys'

These pheasant chicks seemed to thrive even without their parents to show them what to do, said farmer Leanne Bell. (Submitted by Leanne Bell )

A nest of abandoned green eggs discovered this spring in Iona, P.E.I., has successfully produced three baby pheasants, after they were rescued and incubated by local farmers.

Katherine Bryson was clearing some brush on her property, Bryson Family Farm, when she accidentally disturbed a pair of pheasants sitting on a clutch of a dozen green olive-coloured eggs. She waited for several days, but when the birds didn't return to the nest, she put out a call on Facebook looking for someone with an incubator. 

These pheasant eggs were found in a nest, abandoned. (Submitted by Leanne Bell )

"My husband and I are never one to give up on anything," she said. "We decided pretty quickly that we were going to incubate them."

Even though the Brysons are young and relatively new to farming, they knew pheasant eggs were difficult to incubate successfully, so their hopes weren't high.

But neighbour Leanne Bell was up for the challenge, even though the hatching took longer than anticipated. 

'Chance at life'

"We wanted to give them a chance at life," said Bell, who lives down the road in Iona where she and her husband run the 60-acre Humble Farm, raising duck and chicken eggs as well as chickens, ducks and pigs for meat. "It was the only chance for these little guys."

Does that peep mean thanks? Five pheasants hatched from 12 eggs incubated on Humble Farm. (Submitted by Leanne Bell )

"We kept them in the hatcher, and a few days later we heard peeps," Bell explained. 

Five of the pheasants hatched, and three survived, to everyone's delight.

"It was neat. It always amazes me ... the miracle of life coming out of that little egg is pretty cool. And of course, they're always so cute," Bell said. 

The Brysons took the chicks home a few days later, kept them under a heat lamp, watered them, gave them high-protein feed — and were amazed at their hardiness and progress. 

'Fun to watch'

"They're pretty fun to watch!" Bryson said, noting the chicks began to fly at just one week. 

Bryson Family Farm plans to keep these three pheasants. (Submitted by Katherine Bryson)

Coincidentally, Bryson and her husband had planned to begin raising pheasants on their farm and had already ordered five from the local feed store. 

The three pheasants are growing well, she said, now living outside in a grassy, fenced enclosure. The Brysons believe they have two males and a female, which they plan to keep and mate with the ones they've purchased, selling about 50 chicks a year for meat or for release to the wild.

Bryson believes the pheasants that abandoned the nest likely moved elsewhere and laid more eggs. 

Wild pheasants were gradually introduced to the Island beginning in 2007. There are about 100 on the eastern part of the Island. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at sara.fraser@cbc.ca.

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