A hawk is using our chicken coop as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
So far, the predator has carried off two of our bantams and tried to carry off a big hen, but apparently the hen was too heavy. The hen has tale-tell signs of claw marks on its back.
Another hen, named Little Gray Hen, died of unknown causes. I’m blaming the hawk.
Thanksgiving morning I looked out to see the hawk with another one of the bantams. My husband took his pellet gun outside and the hawk dropped the hen and flew off leaving the deceased hen on the ground.
My son asked if there was such a thing as hawk bait. Apparently, bantam chickens work great.
The hawk stayed away for a few days.
Then when I got home one morning this week, I heard a familiar cry from the chicken yard – “hawk, hawk!!!”
I raced out in search of the hawk, but couldn’t see it.
I saw no chickens either. Even the bantams were hidden under their coop. All the big hens cowered under the trees.
As I checked on them, the hawk flew away. He’d been somewhere close by watching and waiting.
A friend recently asked me about the intelligence of chickens. I’m not sure about their intelligence but something allows them to sense danger when humans cannot see it.
There have been no hawk sightings in the past few days.
Just in case, the chickens are keeping an eye on the sky.
Watching the chickens through my kitchen window has become a hobby of mine. Actually watching anything through my kitchen window has always been interesting.
When we lived in Mexico City, my kitchen window looked out on a busy street. I could spend hours just watching the traffic. Now I spend hours watching the chickens and the bees – who are as busy as the traffic some days.
Last week, as I was watching out the window, a shadow passed over the yard.
I thought perhaps a plane was landing in our backyard. However, within seconds, a red tail hawk came into view, a new threat from the sky.
A magnificent creature soaring through the sky. But it preys on chickens and a chicken wrangler and chicken eater are mortal enemies forever.
I turned my gaze to the chicken yard where half the chickens were under the trees on the left of the yard and the other half were out of view on the right.
They may have birdbrains, but our chickens know a threat when they see one.
This hawk sighting confirmed our suspicions about the recent disappearance of a bantam chick. Most of the chickens are too heavy to carry off, but not the bantams.
The hawk flew away, and the chickens on the left quickly ran across the yard to join the chickens on the right. Once again, they were banding together against a common enemy – this time a bird of a different feather.
Freedom, one of our first roosters, once fought off a hawk, but alas, Freedom was very loud and so had to go live in the country. Now we only have small roosters who are no match for a hawk so all the birds must run for cover.
When I went to gather eggs this afternoon, all the chickens were either in the coop or under the trees. I heard a squealing like that of car brakes, and I knew the hawk was near.
I counted the chickens. None of the smaller bantam hens were missing.
I think I figured out why the new little chicks are not going into the coop at night.
I went out before the sun was completely gone last night and watched one of the Bantam hens stand at the door of the coop, refusing to let the little chicks in. When one slipped inside, she chased it back out.
I explained to her that she was behaving like a bully and it had to stop. She didn’t listen very well and continued to chase the little chicks away.
Thinking a distraction might discourage her bullying. We decided to let three quail out of their cage so we could use the cage to transport other quail (another moving day – this one less traumatic).
Watching freed quail is quite fascinating.
They are not interested in leaving the chicken yard. In fact, I’m not sure they know how to fly very far. They can get away from the dogs if necessary, but prefer to walk around with the chickens.
Perhaps, living with chickens, they don’t know they are quail.
Anyway, one of the newly freed quail began chasing the chickens around. Why the chickens run from something a fraction of their size is beyond me. I think it is the bird brain phenomenon.
Chicken Chasing Quail
I must confess when I saw it chasing Bully Bantam, I felt a certain sense of justice.
Apparently, Bully Bantam learned her lesson. All six little chicks were safely in the coop tonight.
However, I did notice a frog in the chicken waterer. I was afraid he was planning to move in and worried about how he would be received by the Chasing Quail and Bully Bantam.
This morning Mr. Frog was gone so maybe he just came to get a drink at night when all the bullies were sleeping.
By definition bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional, hurtful, (physical and psychological), and/or threatening and persistent (repeated). There is an imbalance of strength (power and dominance).
In the Miller Farm Barnyard, the imbalance corrected itself when the small quail took on the Bantam hen.
In real life, if we see someone being bullied, we have the power to step up and be a bully chaser like that quail in Chicken Wrangler Sara’s email today.
I love this quote by Taylor Swift“If you’re horrible to me, I’m going to write a song about it, and you won’t like it. That’s how I operate.”
That’s being a bully chasing quail!
For another example of how an overweight television newscaster handled being bullied, check out fellow WANA tribe member Ginger Calem’s blog about the much publicized bullying episode.
YOUR TURN: Have you had any experience with a bully? Did a quail come to your rescue? Or have you ever stepped up to be a bully chasing quail?