Thomasville-- Some parents find raising children one of the most demanding jobs in their lives, and question if any other living things could take so much time and effort.
Since birds of a feather flock eat together, especially in captivity, they need a good caretaker, and Bobby Patterson makes them a good one.
The lives of about 225 birds large and small rely on him for everything, every day. “They need fresh feed and water daily, and they eat a lot,” says Patterson. They eat him almost out of house and home; 125 pounds of feed every week, not including snacks. “Seems kind of drab eating that all the time,”says Patterson.
Bobby became a gourmet snack maker, mixing all kinds of seeds the birds can’t wait to peck into. The Ring Necks wear what looks like a pair of green sunglasses, but they keep the birds from pecking one another.
He started growing pheasants five years ago and has gotten to know them rather well. “When their water is dirty, they knock it over. They are kind of picky, kind of spoiled.”
Maybe a pheasant’s form of a temper tantrum. It doesn’t bother Bobby, who cleans and refills their water fountain by hand. In minutes they have clean, fresh water again.
It appears the pheasants have Bobby working for them to the point he won’t leave them for more than a day during the hatching season. “I don’t trust too many people to come feed my birds,” Patterson says.
He worries about some of the pheasants escaping or the person forgetting to feed them, worries he finds too great to leave. He spends about three-and-a-half-hours a day with them, and he finds it hard to believe someone can care for them as well as he can.
He does everything, even acting as their security guard because something always wants his feathered children for a meal. “We have owls, hawks, bob cats, coyotes, foxes; I run them off from here,” says Patterson.
All his caring pays off. Nationally, about three out of four pheasants grown in captivity die from natural causes. Bobby doesn’t lose nearly that many, only about half, because he cares for them so much. “Fresh feed, and keep fresh water to them. Clean water, and shelter from the elements,” are the key.
So why would someone be so dedicated to birds in pens that take almost constant attention and seem so unappreciative? “From egg to a bird, I can say I raised that animal,” says Patterson.
Pretty animals that people want to have walking in their yards, with the others sold for hunting, and that could pose a dilemma for Bobby in the future. He wants to go pheasant hunting some day and he might raise his gun to shoot one of his birds. “I don’t know if I could shoot one of my own birds. I don’t know if I could enjoy that or not.”
The birds live a good life; thriving on his personal care, making him some fine-feathered friends. Many of his12 types of pheasants originate in China and Burma.