Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bird of pollos

When we went to Houston last weekend, I boarded the chicks (and Francesca) at my clinic. Our old hens would be fine on their own, but I knew the chicks would spill their feed and their water in the first few hours we were gone. They are growing fast, and their rapid metabolisms would need the nourishment.

I brought the chicks in their bird cage and put them in a small kennel. "Just make sure they have food and water twice I day," I told the staff. Everyone loved them - they are cute, and their cheeping is different from the usual animal noises we hear.

I picked up the dog and the chicks yesterday and brought them home. I went back to work today without any of them. I put the bird cage on the back patio, close to our kitchen door. I noticed after 4 weeks, nearly all the fluffy chick feathers are replaced now with small adult feathers.

Anthony called me in the afternoon. He said that he saw a hawk sitting on our patio. He went out to investigate, and found a gruesome crime scene. The hawk immediately flew off, but had already killed both chicks, skinning one and disemboweling the other. Feathers were everywhere, and blood was spattered on the sliding glass door.

The hawk had managed all this through the cage bars. He didn't open the doors or tear anything up.

I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I wasn't attached to the hen chicks -- they weren't exactly pets, but they were cute, and the end must've been awful.

My coworkers were sad, too. The chicks had been a cheerful diversion to our routine. Moments before I got the call we had been talking about fresh egg omelets and "Rhode Island Reds" (their breed). Some people wondered why the hawk would eat them, but of course, nature is cruel and opportunistic. This was hawk fast food - quick and easy McNuggets.

The hawk returned to the scene of the murder at least 6 times. Francesca barked and raised her hackles, but she was in her kennel when the initial attack occured. The older hens huddled in their coop.

Now we don't know what we'll do. We need replacements for our aging flock, but we don't want anymore tragedies. Maybe we'll figure out some kind of hiding box for the next chicks.

11 comments:

Laura said...

That is sad - and also creates quite a dilemma. Is the garage too hot to leave the chicks in while they're small? Small bathroom maybe? I knew a couple who kept theirs in the basement until they were big enough to go outside.

My grandma used to incubate eggs from her chickens, but would put the chicks out with the hens fairly soon after they hatched. I guess the hens looked after them. (?)

Anonymous said...

Oh, so sad! I am so sorry.
Love you, M

Joey said...

That's so sad. How did Anna & Colin take the news?

get2eric said...

Put a lure out for the hawk. Catch it with a noose around its neck, throttle it but not enough to make it unconsious. Then get a pair of needle nose pliers and pluck away its belly feathers and................ha ha ha ha .....

Sorry about the chicks.

Emily said...

Oh how sad and gruesome! Glad I didn't have to clean that up.

You're so creative, I'm sure you'll devise a safe habitat for the next few.

peevish said...

Oh, terrible news.

Could you devise a small cage within a larger cage, so the hawk couldn't reach all the way through? Sounds like a pain, I know, but I think you guys will always have hawks around.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen to my flock. My solution was simple, place a chicken wire roof over the coup. I never had a single issue from that day forward.

EdamameMommy said...

OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sorry for your loss.

Dana said...

How did I miss that????? You miss everything when you work up front. I feel so bad for the chicks. They were so cute. And they sounded happy. Nature sucks sometimes.

Leah said...

I too am very sorry for the little chicks...I checked on them a lot while you were gone. I loved their little peeps.

Leigh-Ann said...

Oh, that's a sad story... I'm sorry for your loss. You live in a dangerous place!