Friday, August 20, 2010

Chicken Predators

Predator Update: SKUNK
Northern Harrier Hunting my Chickens
Fox and Rabbit
A Lone Coyote Attacks in Daylight

So this summer has been an interesting addition to my chicken adventures. After falling in love with all my chickens and then watching them breed and hatch their own young I was due to watch some die.

This spring started with a sneak of raccoons climbing trees to get over my fences and then scaring one of my broody hens off her nest.  Crisis averted when I rescued and placed her back on her eggs but I suppose I did not make the proper renovations to avoid raccoon attacks later on.

Next turn of attacks was from an immature Northern Harrier that would dive-bomb my litter of chicks.  Large open wings would fly by the windows and chicken screeching would ensue.  Lost two chicks.  Although we later witnessed a mature harrier, with gorgeous slate blue feathers I only caught photos of the immature

One afternoon while attempting to create a bed for oats I begin to hear a chicken clucking, then screaming and shrieking.  Figuring I was loosing a hen but not sure of where she was, I considered first she may have been raping my pasture of its newly sown seed.  Luckily I made the right decision running up our muddy woodland trails and could hear the chicken clearly as I entered the field.   I run aside a trail of black silky feathers and grab my little attack bantam.

Heart pounding and lungs full of thick July air I clutch my rooster panting “you’re all right”.  What a gorgeous dark phase mink looked up into my eyes in amazement of my height.  I stood on a rock in our wetlands, holding that chicken, towering over this glossy coated weasel.  He ferreted away and decided at merely ten feet that this scene was worth a second look.  His black eyes looked in mine again and then darted, never to be seen again. Lil Black wrestling a dark phase mink in the middle of wetlands, how curious.

One afternoon I decide to put my Guido dog on my 40’ lunge line to go for a walk around the yard.  Energy must have drawn me to where I headed.  Silently and gracefully a lynx trotted out from behind a fur tree, across the lawn and took a sharp left into the woods.  My dog was so confused by the silence of this cat's escape that he barely walked after it.  I have not seen the lynx again this year but hear my father has also seen it in our yard. I am now pondering whether I can introduce more rabbit into the area to increase food supply for this lynx. And yes, it was a lynx, not a bobcat.

Finally my mother takes a vacation to visit this house and so I decide I will take a vacation too.  With all the predators about I decide to take no risk and bring all 62 of my chicks with me.  Just nights before we were due to pack and drive I hear chicks chirping even through the sounds of pouring rain and my heart jumps.  I put on my glasses which I only wear in emergencies because they make me dizzy for hours! I approach the coop where one broody hen sleeps with my “home grown chicks” and can see a white feathery bottom under the edge of the door.  Not good. DEAD CHICKS gone gone GONE.  Two with necks snapped but still moving and two cold and hard laying on the floor of the coop.  I rescue mama and remaining chicks that are now running across the grass. 6 saved, 4 lost. Woah is me to loose my beautifully feathered friends, and espcially one a frizzled roo I planned to replace an elder with. A raccoon I suppose, I read they may kill many and have trouble taking them away…

We did indeed pack up my two broody hens and 58 remaining chicks in the back of our trip and headed out of state for a family vacation. This morning I wake up to find chicks all over the yard and even 12 feet up on the trellis.  One missing mama hen! With my hangover from yesterdays beach excursion I lie down for only a moment before I here clucking. Predator warning clucking, which I hoped would stop but when it didn’t I ventured back downstairs. A CAT. The neighbors darn cat is skulking forth pushing hen and chicks of all sizes onto the porch and to varying heights off the ground.  The cats eyes widened as I hissed and he ran with a second. Mama number two still missing and I attempted to count my 52 chicks finding a number of only 50...

Also this morning is a message on the answering machine from my mother who saw something that looked like a skunk around the chicken coop back home. 

Time for an automatic door...

This is where I found my information

What predators do chickens have?  

Which predator was it?   

Alternatives to Pesticides to stop predators

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