Everybody wants the chickens

I spent the weekend putting extra fine mesh over the two-inch mesh that lines the bottom of my chicken coop. Rats had been tunneling under and squeezing in to eat the grain. It was a long and tedious job on hands and knees, but hopefully will deter the marauders.

Then yesterday, I was outside just enjoying the chickens. That is, I was turning over dirt with a pitchfork and watching them greedily gobble the worms and bugs that emerged.  It’s especially fun to watch them eat worms (or at least what I call fun).  They sort of suction them out of their holes and eat them like strands of spaghetti.  While we were happily engaged, there was a crash and a shriek, and suddenly the chickens were fleeing madly towards their house.

hawk_optI turned around to see a young redtail hawk that had swooped in from the wooded side of the run. It had chased a few birds and wound up in the covered corner of the run, unable to get out.  It hunched up facing away from me. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket, so I could capture the hawk digitally before turning it around with a long stick, and herding it out to the open area, where it could fly away.  

hawk2_optWhen I first turned it, it took up a fierce, fighting pose. I prodded it gently, and locked up the frightened hens. Then I spent the whole day covering the open half of the run with bird net. I hadn’t thought there was enough open sky for them to attack from the wooded side, but clearly, I wasn’t thinking like a hungry hawk.

This is the closest I’ve ever been to a hawk, and its fierceness  was impressive. It made me ponder life from the point of view of a bird that must kill live animals to eat.  Unfortunately, chickens make an attractive target.  I think I’ve now protected them from ground, air and laterally, from foxes, raccoons and possums, but who knows where the next incursion will come from? Nature is truly red in tooth…

8 thoughts on “Everybody wants the chickens

  1. I Love Raptors!!!
    I very much enjoyed your report.
    That photo of the hawk is better than any poem about a hawk. Seeing and interacting with this creature, I’ll bet, was life infusing and grand. We need such happenings to restore us, to provide a quickened heart beat.
    So many raptors on this island, as I’ m sure you remember. I feel such excitement when I spot one.
    Jolly good, Meryl, Jolly good!

  2. Yes, raptors truly inspire awe. This was obviously a daring but misguided youngster, maybe three feet from wing tip to wing tip. It was ready to fight me if it had to, even from the ground. As for “nature red in tooth and claw,” that’s Tennyson, not me, a mostly unread poet these days. I’ll have to post something of his one Monday.

  3. When we lived south of Houston, we had chickens, ducks, geese, and few very nasty guinea fowl. I was working in the kitchen one day and looked up and saw all the birds frozen in mid-step. The barnyard was completely quiet. And with that many birds, that was a rarity.

    I went out and immediately saw this huge raptor in the top of the sycamore tree. After a couple of minutes of close observation, I determine that I had a young golden eagle. I called the Audubon line for confirmation and, yes, several folk had seen the youngster – clearly off-course in his migratory flight.

    But he didn’t pick off anyone that day and left after 20 minutes or so. And the normal din returned.

    Magnificent sight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *