The Art Site

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Pukeko Dance

In front of me I could see a dark shape sitting near the middle of the road. As I looked, its glossy black wings quickly rose and fell a couple of times. I could see, as I rode past, that it was a pukeko (the beak gave it away) that it had been hit by a car and that it couldn't move (thus, the hopeless wing-lifting).

My friend Lillian, who was biking in front of me, did a U-turn and together we biked back to the pukeko. We were coming closer to the scene, when another pukeko hurried out to the injured pukeko and did a strange dance around it, flapping its wings and screeching helplessly. It was pretty pathetic. The wounded pukeko's orange legs trailed out uselessly, and he waved his wings. His friend looked down the road (I assume to check for oncoming vehicles) and raced back to the grass verge. From seemingly nowhere, three or four other pukekoes appeared and waited by the road, screeching, flapping their wings and looking at the injured pukeko.


I jumped off my bike, leaving it on the grass, checked for traffic (the other pukeko had been a good example to me) then walked out on to the road. I had a moment's revulsion at the thought of actually picking the bird up, but knelt down beside it anyway. Reaching under it, I picked it up gently (it swore at me, but then settled down) and made my way over to the grass by the fence. The other pukekoes had got themselves through the fence, into an apple orchard, so I felt they must have their base over the fence somewhere. Then I tried to get the pukeko through the fence. Failure. The pukeko would not/could not get through the wire fence. It was getting late, (Lills and I had work at a strawberry farm) so I left the pukeko there, his head and shoulders part way through the fence. I wasn't sure whether or not he'd make it through, but I couldn't do much more with him.

Coming back home, I looked out for the pukeko, vaguely expecting to still see it sitting by the fence. There was no pukeko.


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