Hot Weather and Predators
Summer, the real heat of summer arrived in the Pacific Northwest this week. Temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s permeated the State of Oregon bringing with it skies……..
…..as blue as any sky you’ve every imagined. Thankfully, this summer, there has not been any large fires proximally close enough to cause smokey air, or dingy skies. The air has been clean, warm….well, hot….and easy breathe. It feels good, actually, as the humidity that can sometimes accompany the heat, is really nonexistent this time of year. Well, let me clarify that….sitting, sitting in the heat feels good….working out in it beats you down pretty quickly. This really has been a lovely summer.
Something else arrived on the homestead this week…..something less desirable, something lying in wait, opportunistic in nature, watchful and observant….waiting for a chance. I let my guard down, and it turned it’s instinct into an opportunity…and, without hesitation, ran with it. The chicken house was the intended target…..cunningly, or more like a rushing train, “It”, the predator, took advantage of my unwarranted trustfulness in what I had not yet experienced…a predator had broken into the chicken house.
Due to the heat, I had opened that little window, from the picture above, on the chicken house to create a little air flow through the night. One larger window we leave open in the summer, but it is covered by mesh wire (not a window screen.) This window had a screen, however, it had been torn away…..so no screen, no wire mesh. I had placed a fan in the window and held it in place by wooden dowels, thinking the sound of the fan and the supporting dowel structure would keep predators at bay. It had worked for numerous nights, but not that night.
I heard commotion from the flock, it was about 2:30 a.m. It woke me up. The flock was upset. Sometimes, Benedict, our rooster will call out in the middle of the night….that is not an unusual sound. The cackling that was going on that night, was not that sound. Half asleep, I got up, and listened….Penni, my Great Dane, barked just a single bark…..I was in the process of thinking, “Should I go out there?” …. I did not instinctually run out in my jammies and bare feet ….. I listened, and the sound rescinded. I listened a while longer, and all was quiet.
Morning chores revealed the struggle my birds went through that night. The first clue was noticing that I did not see one hen or rooster, anywhere. Seeing the open window, no fan, or dowels remained within the open space. Opening the door of the chicken house….there were feathers…there were many feathers. In the corner of the droppings tray lay the body of a Rhode Island Red hen. My heart sank. I checked her legs…..she did not have a red band so I knew it was not Chardonnay, our #1 broody hen for hatching chicks. Chardonnay is a sweet, sweet hen. I was happy to see that. So, this meant it was either, Don Pedro, or Chablis (I only had three true Rhode Island Reds at that point.) Her head and neck were gone…the rest of her body untouched, but still I knew….this was Don Pedro.
Don Pedro was the lead hen of the flock….she ruled, second only to Benedict. Sometimes she ruled with an iron beak, but one thing is for sure, she was respected among the other hens. We will miss, Don Pedro!! She had the largest, floppy comb of the hens, and I could always tell which of the hens were her actual offspring…they were the ones with the larger floppy combs…but none of them as grand has hers. RIP, Don Pedro.
It seems that this was probably the work of a racoon. There were suttle foot prints among the signs of the struggle within the sand of the droppings tray. Also, a Google search told me that if just the head and neck are missing, the predator is either a mink, a racoon, a hawk or an owl. I’m pretty confident I can eliminate all three except the raccoon…I don’t think we have mink up here…I’m not sure….but I’m pretty sure an owl or a hawk would not enter the hen house through a partially blocked small 2 x 2 window.
Needless to say that window will remained closed until I put a wire mesh screen over it. On a good note, when the flock emerged from their hiding place, we found that only the one hen was taken from us that night. It could have been so much worse.
Don Pedro….she was quite a character!! Hahahaha!! I’m glad I knew this funny, demanding hen!
Happier news on the homestead…..our Great Dane, Penni, has a confirmed pregnancy!! Puppies due Sept. 21, 2016. Check out http://www.haveadanehilldanes.com
Thank you for visiting today!! Have a wonderful Sunday, and an awesome week!!
Your friend from Oregon,
#racoonattacksonchickens #whatanimalwillonlyeattheheadandneckoffachickenandleavethebody #predatorsagainstchickens