VOLGA, W.Va. — When you live in West Virginia encounters with nature and wildlife are not uncommon. But for the Warner family in Barbour County a new inhabitant at the family’s farm has bent the rules.
“It’s the dangdest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Kasey Warner, the former U.S. Attorney in West Virginia’s southern district.
The “dangdest thing” is a young grouse which has apparently claimed squatters rights on the property, and doesn’t seem to have any problem sharing the space with his human “friends.”
Kasey was preparing to cut up a poplar tree four weeks ago which had fallen on the property. As he was started to pull the cord on his chainsaw he spied the bird wandering closer and closer to him and the downed tree.
“I cranked up the chainsaw thinking I’d scare him away, but the louder the chainsaw got, the closer he came,” Warner explained. “Then he started standing in the spray of the sawdust coming off the saw. It would hit him in the face and then he started pecking away at the little bugs in the sawdust.”
Not sure anybody would believe him, he snapped a couple of pictures. But the bird didn’t seem deterred. Brother Ben Warner was around later and noticed the bird, now nicknamed “Dan Quayle.”
“When we would start a chainsaw or weedeater, the bird would be attracted to the sound and come to the area that we were working in and stay until we moved,” Ben said of the encounter. “This continued all weekend, for 3 days.”
“I marked that poplar log every 19 inches. He would sit on the next hash mark while I cut one. That’s how close he was, 19 inches away.” Kasey explained.
The bird’s fearless attitude toward humans doesn’t seem to extend to the canine community. The family dog put him up on the roof at one point.
“At first I thought he was injured, but it’s not,” said Kasey. “He’ll jump up and fly away if a dog comes around. I really have no idea.”
The curious bird has been seen the past four weekends at the family’s Barbour County gathering place. Nobody knows where it roosts or where it roams, but he’s been consistently at the property each weekend.
“Last weekend I wasn’t even using a chainsaw,” he said. “I was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch with a couple of other people and he hopped up the steps and sat between two rocking chairs like he was one of the crowd. He thinks he’s a human.”
Although unsure of an explanation for the grouse’s behavior, the family is content to let it stay wild and haven’t tried to capture the bird or transform it into a pet. They’re content to let him be as fearless or shy as he chooses to be and enjoy the remarkable experience.