Call it love or call it obsession, but a woman in New Hampshire says she and her daughters returned from a recent trip to find a wild bird had become bewitched by her husband.
Mary Beth Westward of New London reported the “unusual attachment” May 21 on Facebook, noting a ruffed grouse was following her husband Todd adoringly and chasing others away like “a feathered velociraptor.”
The family has taken to calling the pushy bird Walter.
“It’s just so odd. And when I say he’s close to Todd, it’s as though Walter has completely bonded,” Westward wrote.
“He’s is like a dog ... Walter follows Todd everywhere. Greets him in the morning and escorts him to the truck. Waits by the front walk for him at the end of the day. Keeps him company when he does work around the house. (He) is completely unfazed by the sounds of power tools and large equipment. Walter lives here now. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t let us know he’s part of our family.”
Her story was later shared on a New Hampshire Facebook group, where it has gotten 5,000 reactions and nearly 900 comments, many from people charmed by the bird and curious about Todd’s “animal magnetism.”
“Your husband is clearly a Disney princess. This is awesome,” Jennieanne Steinman wrote.
“Can’t wait for the movie!” Sue Lichty posted.
“Do they mate for life?” Sonja Torkelsen asked.
Westward says she shared the details in hope someone could explain what was going on. Turns out this is not the first time such behavior has been documented, according to wildlife expert Lisa Williams in a video produced by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
It happens in the spring, she said, and typically involves male grouse.
“One theory behind the tame grouse behavior is that they are being hyper territorial. And if I come into the territory and do anything that sounds like I might be a drumming grouse, I can elicit this hyper territorial response,” Williams said.
“If you’re fortunate enough to come across one of these tame grouse, enjoy it while it lasts. They usually only last a few weeks during the peak breeding season. And often these birds do not live very long, because they’re a little too brave for their own good.”
Some people have suggested the Westward family should keep Walter safe by taking him in as a pet, but Mary Beth Westward says that won’t happen.
“We wouldn’t feel right doing that. He is wild,” she wrote on Facebook. “He is very self sufficient.”