Friday, December 18, 2009

Andalusia: A Bird Sanctuary

During and since the time Flannery O'Connor lived here, Andalusia has been a haven for birds of all kinds, both domesticated and wild. It is well known that O'Connor bred peafowl at the farm. However, she raised other birds as well - ducks, geese, swans, guinea hens, and quail. There is the tender scene recalled in a letter to Brainard Cheney where O'Connor describes sitting awkwardly at her typewriter, trying to write, while two orphaned baby quail lay chirping in a box beneath her feet. The author admitted that this was somewhat of an inconvenience as "it is interfering with my powers of communication." (The Correspondence of Flannery O'Connor and the Brainard Cheneys, ed. C Ralph Stephens - Jackson: University Press of Mississipi: 1986, p. 36)

O'Connor's birds survived her by a good many years. The last of her peafowl were still roaming the property in the late 1980s. They obviously found that the farm was a safe haven for birds. The same is true today. Dozens of species of birds continue to enjoy the friendly confines of Andalusia, and the farm attracts bird watchers from all over. This morning a flock of seven wild turkeys was spotted foraging peacefully on the front yard. Since hunting is strictly forbidden on the farm's 544 acres, birds and other wildlife enjoy the protection of a wildlife sanctuary.

Our peafowl continue to thrive in spite of the cold, rainy weather. Yesterday morning the male fanned his magnificent tail feathers to the amazement of on-lookers and the obvious delight of the two hens. It was a memorable moment. One can only imagine what this spectacle will be like next spring when he is in full plumage.


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