'We used to shoot 'em as kids' the tour guide says when one of her clients asked about the family of native hens scurrying across the carpark. 'I'd hold the spotlight and Dad'd shoot 'em' she laughs.
We have stopped for brekky at a small platypus reserve near Burnie, Tasmania. It's too late for the dawn animals, but I'm enjoying the cute native hen babies. I listen with one ear to hear what I can about these endemic creatures.
'Do they make good eating?' one woman asks.
'Oh yeah nah' she jokes. 'Add a stone to the pot and in a couple of hours eat the stone and chuck away the bird'. The group laughs and moves on before I can pick my jaw off the ground. At no point does she say they are a protected species as you would imagine she would.
Nope, she simple illustrates a complete and utter contempt for the life of these flightless birds. Granted, she was a farmer's daughter, and I can imagine the birds would make enemies as they love clover and legumes. But still, there are far worse pests.
The native hen does have natural predators in the form of quolls and Tassie devils, and would be extinct as they are on the mainland if Tassie had foxes too. Everyone worries about foxes, as the wildlife would suffer even more then. I've heard tell of people saying they've seen them sneak off boats but that could well be an urban myth.
They also can be polygamous, where one female bird has a few male partners, usually for life, and half are monogamous. The siblings help raise their young too.
As I drink my coffee, I think about how fucked human beings can be and how it's little wonder we are on the verge of mass species extinction. At the same time I smile and cluck at the babies as the adults make a strange see-saw kinda croak, like they have something rusty stuck in their throat. They're hoping for some of my muesli, I think, just like my chooks at home.
If you want to listen to their 'see saw' sound, check this video out. Crazy. It's making me really laugh as I listen myself - a genuine see saw sound, like someone is frantically cutting wood.
Keep Tassie Wild, an environmentally minded company who designs stickers and patches, feature the tassie chook, as it's affectionally known, on a sticker. They donate a percentage of proceeds to conservation groups. You can find their sticker of it by clicking on the image link below.
For the record, you CAN eat them - apparently they taste awful, or lovely and tender, depending on who's cooking, and who's eating. But it'd have to be a roadkill chook, as you aren't allowed to hunt and kill them, remember?
And remove the stone first.
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I suspect that people regularly ate the local critters before refrigeration. They are the right size for a meal.
The hard part was pairing the right wine with the critter.
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It's crazy how she can just laugh about killing them, it was a sport to her. Unfortunately that still happens allover the world. Using animals and birds for sport. I can never understand that, it's so cruel.
They look more pigeon like to me, I like them xxxxx
They do have quite a pigeon face don't they?
I always respect those who kill with awareness and empathy, taking what they need to feed their family and being respectful to the life they have taken. But to be so dismissive, callous and cruel makes me feel such despair.
That call is hilarious 🙂 I like the Keep Tassie Wild sticker.
Isn't it cool? And their call is hilarious. Now I can recall hearing them in the bush even though I couldnt see them. It wasn't a wallaby with a saw after all 🤣🤣🤣
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I love them!! Tonight, when I go to sleep, I know what YouTube video I will listen to :))
People used to kill deer so often that they were largely worthless as well but people smartened up eventually. I guess that’s where the term buck came from, where a full male deer body was so easy to come by in a few Midwest states that it was used as a bit of currency lol
I don’t mind the predation of some animals as long as it’s for food but if they kill them just to kill them, that’s stupid.