Thursday, January 9, 2014

Beware: Francolin in bin.


The unintentionally ornithological bus tour of Oahu continued.   Somewhere along the windward coast we stopped at a farm famous for its macadamia nut products.  I avoided the crowded gift shop and wandered around the grounds, under a canopy of magnificent arching branches.

There were macadamia nuts outside too.  Their broken shells littered the ground.  In low light I tried, unsuccessfully, to take decent pictures of two common species of introduced doves, the tiny, ubiquitous Zebra Doves, and the larger Spotted Doves as they scooted about on the shells.

This place is nuts.

There was an activity station set up for visitors, meant to show how darn hard a macadamia nut is.  It featured a bin raised on legs with sides made from hardware cloth mesh, through which heaped nuts could be seen. The top was a heavy wooden plank with three evenly-spaced saucer-sized holes into which one could reach to retrieve a nut.  You were to take the nut to a nearby stump and place it in a little dent in the centre.  There were hard black rocks with which to whack the nut in an attempt to open it.  This is possible to do, as evidenced by the carpet of shells on the ground. 

Twice something odd happened.  Someone reached into the nut bin and yelled "Ow!"

The second person was a teen aged girl.  She claimed there was a chicken hiding in the nut bin, and it bit her when she reached into the middle hole.

I had to check this out.
  I have sketched the basic set-up as I remember it.

I went and peered into the middle hole of the nut bin.  There indeed was a bird, chicken-like, but with a heavier body, shorter neck, and a domed head with a rusty cap.  It had a curved bill and angry eyes that said, "Yeah, just try it.  Reach in a try it."  It was the Nut Guardian Bird.

When we got back to the hotel, I thumbed through a bird guide in the gift shop.  The Nut Guardian Bird was an Erckel's Francolin.

According to the bird guide, Erckel's Francolins were introduced to Hawaii in 1957, from Africa.  The guide said nothing of a habit of lurking in nut bins.

5 comments:

biobabbler said...

Wow. I would call that a delightfully random story. I wonder if you've chanced upon some previously undiscovered underworld, and if, subsequently, your days are numbered. As is the remaining time this particular post will exist…

"Rock Paper Whom?"

Hugh said...

bb: Yer freaking me out. Like a francolin in a nut bin.

Snail said...

You know what would be weirder that the gates to the underworld guarded by a translocated Erckel's francolin? If they were guarded by Urkel's francolin.

I'll leave that thought here.

Neil Kelley said...

As long as we're speculating about trans-dimensional portals, I'm pretty sure that you stumbled into an Interpreter story.

Hugh said...

The interpreter went to Hawaii and came upon Steve Urkel and his vicous guard bird at a nut farm... Yes, that works. I should have kept the series going.