Pheasants are characterized by strong sexual differences between the male and female. The male colors, wattle and long tail feathers are highly ornate, while the female is very drab in comparison, with short tale feathers, very little color and no wattle. The male is usually much larger than the female. The male has no part in rearing the young, but the female has very good parenting skills and protects her young.
Common Pheasants can fly well for short distances, but they prefer to run. They can however, suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive “whirring” wing sound and often giving “kok kok kok” calls to alert other members of their family. If being chased they can fly as fast as 60 mph. Their “family” are their chicks and other females and chicks of the group that belong to the male.
Symbolism: family, fertility and sexuality, protection
Pigeons and doves are of the same species of the avian family and are found worldwide — they have adapted to most of the habitats available on Mother Earth. Both the male and female care for the young and both produce a highly nutritious substance called “crop milk” from the lining of the crop. Both feed this to their young.
Doves in some religions area a symbol of peace and resurrection. A dove is a common Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit. In Islam, doves and the pigeon clan in general are respected and favored because they are believed to have assisted the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad, in distracting his enemies outside the cave of Thaw’r in the great Hijra.
Symbolism: peace, loyalty to love & security of home and family, fertility, nurturing
The porcupine has sharp quills to defend themselves from predators. These quills were highly valued by tribal women for decorating clothing and other items made of hide. Old World porcupines have been on Mother Earth for at least 30 million years. Their quills are grouped in clusters rather than separate. Quills are released by contact with them, or they may drop out when the porcupine shakes its body, but cannot be projected at attackers. New quills grow to replace lost ones. From ancient times, it was believed that porcupines could throw their quills at an enemy, but this has long been refuted.
Porcupines are very adaptable to habitats — some live in forests, deserts, rocky outcrops, hillsides and grasslands. Some New World porcupines live in trees, but Old World porcupines stay on the ground. They all love salt and will often journey to roads where rock salt is spread for ice melt. Placing “salt licks” in their areas of habitat will help them from becoming injured by going out to the roads.
Symbolism: innocence, companionship, trust
Prairie Dogs are very affectionate, playful, and family oriented little critters.
Ecologists consider the prairie dog very important to conservation efforts. Prairie dog tunnel systems help channel rainwater into the water table to prevent runoff and erosion, and can also serve to change the composition of the soil in a region by reversing soil compaction that can be a result of cattle grazing.
The prairie dog is quite capable of detecting and escaping from predators. They have good eye sight, can see predators from far distances and have special calls to alert others in their colony of the danger. They pile up soil excavated from their tunnels around the entrances and use these elevated mounds for observation points. Their burrows have several escape routes.
Symbolism: affectionate, family-oriented, swiftness, industrious, constructive, observant, preparedness