Saturday, August 16, 2008

Picky, picky, pecky

Are the pullets getting close to laying? Their behavior has altered in the last few days. In the evenings when I gave them their cracked corn, they used to peck and scratch together peacefully. Now they're getting testy with each other, pecking at necks and squawking as if to say, "Hey, that's my piece, get your own!" Henry is getting more aggressive with the girls. He hasn't tried mounting them yet, but I'm sure the time is getting near.

The chickens were penned up in the run last evening before roosting, when they all stopped what they were doing and went to the back fence next to the woods. They were craning their necks looking into the trees and underbrush. There were dogs barking in the distance, an owl hooting and various birds giving their goodnight calls. Those are all sounds they are used to hearing. Maybe they could hear a raccoon or a fox or a coyote starting their nightly rounds early. They were definitely very wary and paying close attention for at least ten minutes. A long time for an animal with a short attention span.

On the way back from a walk with Lucy yesterday morning, I counted twenty crows near our house. That thrills me and gives me hope that they will keep the hawks away from the area around our property. We haven't seen many in the last few years. I'm positive they were decimated by the West Nile Virus epidemic we had several years ago.

Also on our walk, I saw a young red-tailed hawk hanging out near a wooded pond about a mile away. I'm pretty sure it's one from the nest on our property. The parents obviously have left it to fend for itself. Its call sounded plaintive and hungry. I hope it doesn't remember where our barn is, but more than likely it will be back. Like Amy, I'm worried about the Cooper's hawks when the protective tree canopy is gone. We have several evergreen trees in the yard, but not like the cover that all the underbrush under the deciduous trees provides. I guess I'll cross that bridge later.

Why is it I never seem to have my camera with me when I see things that are interesting? I suppose I'll have to start carrying it with me everywhere I go so I will have photos to correspond with every post. Oh well, next time!


Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

I have the same camera problem! I never have one with me when there's something I want to photograph. I have a roll of deer netting on standby for when the hawks return. I don't plan to keep it on the run year-round, only when the hawks are hungry.

Fannie Mae said...

We have a pair of Cooper's Hawks, but we LOVE them. They keep the bunnies and squirrels in check!

Susan said...

Amy, I think you have your camera on hand puh-lenty! You always have beautiful pictures.

Fannie Mae, we don't have a bunny problem with the pack of coyotes that lives near us! We do have a lot of squirrels though.

I really find it hard to believe that a Cooper's hawk would tackle a full-grown heavy breed chicken, but I guess it's true as reported on BYC.

Don said...

You think you have problems with cameras, I have to carry the photographer around too!

I have had hawks hanging around too. My cuckoo maran (his name is KHAN, after Ghengis) is quite large and very protective. He always puts himself between the raptor and his girls. Maybe his large size will deter the hawks, cuz I don't think he is any match in a brawl.

Amy says the race for oggs is on! I'll try to keep up with you all!