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VIDEO: A pheasant surprise for Cape Breton mailman

A pheasant in Whitney Pier is shown accompanying Canada Post letter carrier John Ross on his route. Contributed by Susan Larick
A pheasant in Whitney Pier is shown accompanying Canada Post letter carrier John Ross on his route. - Contributed by Susan Larick
SYDNEY, N.S. —

After 16 years on the job, it was a pheasant surprise for a Canada Post letter carrier to get a sidekick.

A pheasant has apparently gotten so attached to John Ross, of Sydney, the bird often helps him with his mail route.

“Every time I’ll go into a driveway he’ll stop by the curb and wait for me to go back out,” he said. “When I come back out he’ll follow me to the next driveway and wait again.”

Ross’s route includes the Borden Street/St. Anns area of Whitney Pier. Everything started about a month ago when the pheasant appeared which was a bit of a surprise.

“I said, 'What the heck is this?'” he said. “I had no idea.”

The bird followed him on the route for about five blocks.

Since then, the pheasant — which he named ‘Brownie’ — has shown up numerous times, always staying by Ross’s side.

The bird has obviously decided not to work full time but does take in multi-weekly shifts. Days will go by and then out of the blue he’s back.

“I’d say he’s done the route about eight times with me now,” he said.

“I turn around from a doorstep and he‘ll be there sitting on top of a snowbank waiting for me.”

However Ross never sees him coming.

“He just shows up. It’s too funny.”

This is the pheasant that often accompanies Canada Post letter carrier John Ross on his route. - CONTRIBUTED/SUSAN LARICK
This is the pheasant that often accompanies Canada Post letter carrier John Ross on his route. - CONTRIBUTED/SUSAN LARICK

Ross says a woman on St. Anns Street feeds several male and female pheasants who have been hanging around. The males are extremely colourful and the females not so much.

Although he knows other pheasants are around, Ross knows the one showing up is always his friend as the feathers are different on one side, almost appearing as if it's shedding in that spot.

Most recently Ross said the pheasant has gotten a bit more aggressive, pecking at his feet. The bird will walk beside him but then speed up, walk in front of him and stop, cutting him off.

“Then when I go left to go around him, he’ll go that way and then stop,” he said. “He won’t let me get by, it’s just too funny.”

Ross doesn’t know why the pheasant is doing this but wonders if it has something to do with the cleats on the bottoms of his boots. The cleats make a clicking sound and it could be the bird might be attracted to the noise.

“He’ll walk and then he’ll come up next to me,” he said. “I always know when he’s going to peck because his tail feathers open up just before he does it.”

Ross said he’ll get down on one knee and try to touch him but the bird stays just far enough way that he can’t.

The oddly paired duo has caught the eye of others. Several people driving by have stopped to take photos or a video. Ross himself has taken six or seven videos of the pheasant walking beside him.

For anyone knowing Ross the bond wouldn’t be surprising.

“When it comes to animals how could you not love them?” he asked.

And Ross obviously does, admitting when he reaches that part of his route he now watches for his little friend daily.

“When I see him it makes my day that’s for sure,” he added.

“I tell him, ‘Don’t be pecking at me,’ but he does anyway.”

John Ross, of Sydney, walks along his mail route on Borden Street in Whitney Pier, Tuesday. Ross has numerous videos of a pheasant he has named ‘Brownie’ that often accompanies him on his route, waiting patiently at the end of driveways while Ross is puts mail in the mailboxes. The duo have caught attention as motorists have stopped to take photos and even videos of the two delivering mail together. - SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRETON POST
John Ross, of Sydney, walks along his mail route on Borden Street in Whitney Pier, Tuesday. Ross has numerous videos of a pheasant he has named ‘Brownie’ that often accompanies him on his route, waiting patiently at the end of driveways while Ross is puts mail in the mailboxes. The duo have caught attention as motorists have stopped to take photos and even videos of the two delivering mail together. - SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRETON POST

The neighbours have noticed the bond.

Susan Larick of St. Anns Street said she worked with Ross years ago and now he’s her mailman. Last week when she stepped outside to say hi to Ross, it was a pleasant surprise to see the pheasant strolling along side of him helping with his route.

“He said, ‘Oh, I’m with a friend today.”

Larick said it was so cute seeing them walking together.

“I love it, I love it,” she said. “They are beautiful birds.”

Right away Larick asked Ross to bring the bird over. Ross walked over to her steps and the pheasant simply followed.

“It was great, I was able to get pictures up close.”

There have been a couple male pheasants and female pheasants hanging around Larick’s property.

It was several weeks ago she first saw one on a stormy day. Her husband went out to plow and the bird was under her apple tree.

“I’ve been buying seeds for them.”

In the meantime Ross has had various dogs accompany him on his routes before but this is the first bird.

One of Ross’s supervisors told him a letter carrier in Sydney River has bonded with a crow and is feeding one which will swoop down low now to get a treat.

In Vancouver, Canada Post letter carrier Tyler McLeod often posts updates on his friendship with the famous Canuck the Crow. At first Canuck would attack him but eventually the two bonded and now Canuck can be seen on McLeod’s Instagram swooping in for a rest while the letter carrier pats him.

According to information on the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry website, the original North American introduction to pheasants took place around 1733 when several dozen black necks were introduced to Governor's Island in New York harbour.

In Nova Scotia the first attempt to introduce pheasants was made around 1856 but it was not until 1935 that ring-necks became established. During that year the Kings County Fish and Game Association obtained about 1,000 eggs. They sought the help of local farmers, who placed them under domestic setting hens. The association obtained only 85 birds from the eggs, but from this and subsequent releases the population became established.

The present wild population is centred in the eastern Annapolis valley but is found in agricultural and coastal areas throughout the province.

sharon.montgomery@cbpost.com

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