Yes, things have gotten exciting around here, and not in a good way. Yesterday I was working on my blogs, when the distressed squawking of my poor Bantams got my slow, old body coming to the rescue.
Just in time to see a really large hawk front, center, and personal in the general area of where a very scared and angry rooster had taken refuge in my taxus shrub.
I moved towards the hawk to scare it off and it flew through the cherry trees into the wild blue yonder.
It was time to assess the damage.
I went to get my daughter and we managed to flush the rooster from the bush. He was still quite upset and missing a number of his best tailfeathers… and no sign of the little Banty hen. They are always in tandem and I started to worry that the hawk had a successful luncheon.
We looked throughout the area and tried to search under shrubs, and I looked in the prairie patch, which is a favorite destination of theirs. No sign, so I was getting less optimistic that she had survived. But I hadn’t seen the hawk fly off with anything in its talons, so still hopeful, went looking for the group of buff hens.
They were all accounted for under the Annabelle hydrangea hedge along the garage.
We moved them and the rooster to the coop. I figured the rooster needed some time to calm down and feel secure.
I was sitting on the front yard bench and trying to process the loss of the little hen. I had gotten attached to her, she was so cute and steadily supplied us with her pullet sized eggs. She had even shown signs of getting broody and I had planned on next year trying to hatch a few chicks.
Now, I was considering revisiting the old Amish lady (she is closer to my mother’s age than mine, tho’ I’m an old lady, too) and buying another Bantam hen, if possible.
But my heart wasn’t really in it.
So, I decided to search more carefully under the shrubs where the morning’s disaster took place. At least I could do some overdue weeding in that area while scrounging around down on my knees. This was my rationale for pursuing the effort involved in a seemingly unfruitful endeavor after three of us had scoured the area.
I started by the taxus. It is a shrub that I hedge down a bit, so its tightly woven branches likely helped save the Bantam rooster. It is dense and took a minute to adjust my eyes from the bright midday sun.
I saw no sign of my poor little hen. She is a dark brown color and not easily seen in underbrush anyway, but after removing some stray grasses, I resigned myself to the fact that there was no sign of her there.
I weeded a little more and then figured that I ought to look under the neighboring birds nest spruce, next.
Are you sensing a happy ending to this story yet?
I pulled more weeds along one side of the bush looking around, then moved around the other side of the spruce and peered below.
A mess of small feathers boded poorly for the fate of my hen. It looked like the aftermath of a successful cat hunt… a pile of short, downy feathers. I was almost afraid to look further.
I thought I heard the faintest sound of a cluck. Talking soothingly, I looked underneath, still discerning no sign, but hearing a bit more …tiny hesitant sounds … and then my daughter came round and saw her.
Our little hen, alive!
We were outlandishly happy and relieved. Spared the fate of being eaten by the Chickenhawk (possibly a Redtail, but am unsure), the little brown hen was understandably shaken and we couldn’t catch her, so gently herded her to the coop.
All were given some fresh water, feed, and closed up in the coop for the day.
All is well that ends well they say, but I have some concern about wintering over the hens without a dog on the premises. We all had our excitement for the day here at Flat Iron Acres.
It was quite large, had brown and white barred feathers.
All during this summer we had seen plenty of hawks, some roosting in our trees over the deck. I have a sparsely branched Silver Maple there that is quite old and tall. Two or three of them liked sitting there early in the season.
I’ve have seen quite a few more hawks this year than in years past.
I looked up the term for a large group of them, which we are seeing in our parts lately.
It turns out that I often see a kettle of them (that is when they float on the updraft currents in their circular scans of the areas) and congregate in “a cast of hawks”. Like “cast of characters”, I guess.
Birders have their lingo like all other insiders. We’ve no doubt heard of a “murder of crows” from mystery books, but what of the other groups of birds?
Here are some interesting ones for you to add to your reservoir of trivia (I am always adding to mine):
- A cast of hawks
- A charm of finches
- A congregation of plovers
- A cover of coots
- A covey of partridges
- A deceit of lapwings
- A descent of woodpeckers
- A dole of doves
- An exaltation of larks
- A murmuration of starlings
- A party of jays
- A siege of herons
- A wisp of snipe
There you have it… a basketful of poetic vocabulary terms in readiness for when next seeing a large group of said birds.
Whew! I’m so glad you found her safe and sound. I recently watched a large crow snatch a small bird right from the sky, and then sit down for a quick snack. They were blocked from my view, but when the crow left, there was nothing left behind except a few feathers. Yikes!
Ilona Erwin says
I’ve been nervous ever since… it will be a little while before we can get a proper chicken run made. Yes, there are lots of predators for small songbirds… seems so sad, doesn’t it? All part of life, but I am invested in my chickens, now! No laissez-faire here.