That’s right: another attack on the chickens took place this weekend.
The first time, when the weasel killed my birds, I heard nothing.
This time there was a sudden burst of distressed squawking. There were chickens exploding into the air and into the woods. There were dogs on high alert.
By the time I got down to the coop, it was silent. Not a chicken to be seen.
Just a cloud of feathers on the ground. And a raptor flying south through the trees.
The feathers were black-and-white striped, making me think that a Barred Rock had been taken. Which would mean I’m just having some bad luck with the Rocks: first I lose one as a chick in a pile-up and now I lose another to a predator.
I did a quick search in, under and around the coop. I found three birds hunkered down inside: two of the Rhode Island Reds and a single Barred Rock. But no others.
So I searched the woods, having seen birds flee in that direction. Of course, the birds could have fled in any direction. But when it comes to search and rescue, you start with what you know.
I searched in a gradually-expanding circular pattern, starting at the coop and circling farther out into the woods with each subsequent sweep. Always passing by the coop to see if the birds had returned. Always looking up into the trees as well as scanning the ground.
Nothing. Damn it.
It was a bit depressing to think I had lost over half my coop to a raptor attack: one being taken and the rest getting scattered and lost. But it was only mid-morning and chickens always return to their coop when it gets dark. If the birds were going to come back, they were going to do it on their own and at the end of the day. This had happened before [link]. Not much I could do but wait and see.
I went back to the coop to check on the remaining birds and do another search of the area. A slower, more deliberate search.
Sure enough, when I looked under the coop again, there were chickens hiding there. Don’t know how I missed them the first time. They were hunkered down and quiet. And they let me pull them out without much fuss.
There were five birds under the coop.
For anyone doing the math: five plus three equals eight. Which is exactly the number of chickens I started the day with.
So… What the heck happened?
Something attacked the chickens, that’s for sure. But they all survived. I’m inclined to believe it’s because I didn’t clip their wings and they were able to evade and escape like they naturally should. They also had plenty of room to move and places to hide.
But it’s also because we got lucky. Kind of important to recognize this and not confuse luck for anything else. Here’s why…
While walking down to check on the chickens the next morning, the dogs went on high alert. Again.
Across the driveway from the coop, disappearing into the trees with great haste, was a dark fluffy tail.
Might be the chickens got lucky twice this weekend.
But the predators aren’t gone. And luck is a lousy plan for keeping the chickens secure.
Got some scheming to do.