Ponoka County pheasant flock without a roost after fire

(Photo submitted)(Photo submitted)
The remains of the burned out heat lamps. (Photo submitted)The remains of the burned out heat lamps. (Photo submitted)
(Photo submitted)(Photo submitted)
The pheasant coop before the fire. It had been reinforced to keep out predators. (Photo submitted)The pheasant coop before the fire. It had been reinforced to keep out predators. (Photo submitted)
Meyer’s two ringneck males are still in hiding in a tree in her yard. (Photo submitted)Meyer’s two ringneck males are still in hiding in a tree in her yard. (Photo submitted)
A stock image of a ringneck pheasant like the one that Meyers is missing. (Photo submitted)A stock image of a ringneck pheasant like the one that Meyers is missing. (Photo submitted)
A stock image of a male lady amherst pheasant. (Photo submitted)A stock image of a male lady amherst pheasant. (Photo submitted)

After losing most of their ornamental pheasant flock to coyotes in the spring, Ponoka County residents Sandy and Barrie Meyer’s remaining birds are now without their coop as well after a fire in the early hours of Dec. 31.

“This year has been hard,” said Sandy.

“We went to great measures to protect our coop and were trying to build up our flock and then this happened. What a way to wrap up 2020.”

Although both Barrie and Sandy work off the acreage and the pheasants were not their main source of income, the loss is still difficult.

“It’s a devastating loss when you come out in the middle of the night and everything’s on fire.”

The aviary, which was about 10 ft wide and 20 ft long, is believed to have caught fire from a heat lamp. The lamp was tightly secured and it’s unlikely it fell over, but it’s possible mice chewed through the wires, causing a short.

Once there was a spark, the straw on the ground was the perfect tinder.

The exact cause was ruled undetermined by the insurance company’s fire investigator.

“I’m just glad no one was hurt and no birds perished in the fire,” she said.

It was their neighbours who noticed the flames at 2:30 a.m. and notified the Meyers. The neighbour’s hay bales for their horses had been stacked on their side of the fence, next to the coop, and they were lost as well.

The Meyers were able to move their birds to keep them safe, so thankfully, none of them were lost in the blaze.

“We were lucky,” said Sandy.

“I just feel horrible for my neighbors and the loss of their hay. I’m so thankful that they noticed the fire at that time of the morning. It could have been so much worse.”

READ MORE: Fire crews clean up garage fire

After coyotes decimated the flock, getting away with 20 of their 23 birds, worth $500, the couple added tin with spikes around the perimeter so the predators couldn’t dig underneath.

They started to rebuild, however, and had nine pheasants and two pea hens before the fire.

Although no birds were harmed in the fire, their ringneck male has gone missing and their two lady amherst males won’t come down from a tree on the property.

The Meyers have only tried their hand at raising pheasants for about a year and a half. Before they had chickens, which Sandy says were much easier to care for.

Although she’s not sure what they could have done differently to prevent the fire, she is warning other poultry keepers to check any heat lamps they have frequently and to make sure they are secure and in good repair.

They had last checked their heat lamps at 5:30 p.m. the evening before but didn’t know anything was amiss until they were alerted by their neighbours.

Their flock is now being housed in a smaller shed, huddling together for warmth, as the couple is too scared to have a heat source and risk another potential fire.

Although she hopes they can rebuild, it will all depend on what the insurance will cover and what they can afford.

A gas heater may be a safer option, but a larger building would be needed, and it would be much more expensive.

“I don’t really know exactly what we’re going to do,” she said, although she says the first priority will be repairing the fence.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Ponoka County

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

(File photo)
After several years in limbo, Parkland Manor to be torn down

Rimoka Housing Foundation has received funding and approval for the demolition

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read