July 3rd, 2012
Devastation here tonight. Upon approaching the chicken yard with a bowl of kitchen scraps, I saw my silkie roo lying in the sun in the middle of the yard and something didn’t look right. I called to him and started running. He raised his head at the sound of my voice but when I got to him, he was in bad shape. I saw a dead body near him, and then another. Between 3pm and 6:30pm, something got in and wiped out a good portion of my flock.
Dead chickens everywhere, but none of them eaten — not even any visible blood! Whatever it was that had done this, as soon as one bird stopped fighting, this predator had proceeded to the next moving target. I built a “Fort Knox” coop because most of the predators in my area are nocturnal, but all these chickens died on a bright afternoon! It is so distressing and so frustrating. What did this and how do I stop it? I can’t even see where anything got in. HWA and I walked the yard multiple times after my discovery and there were no gaps in the fence and nowhere that is dug under. What dog (s) or coyote(s) could kill so many birds without leaving a trace of their entry or exit?
Needless to say, I am feeling pretty devastated. 3 years keeping hens in the city, and I only lost 2 to the neighbor’s dogs next door. 3 weeks living in the country, and 1/3 of my flock is gone in a matter of hours. HWA and I were here – but heard nothing.
July 4th, 2012
I am moving slowly today – there is this terrible sadness whenever I think about it. HWA and I are both carrying our handguns (9mm) with us and have a .22 rifle by the backdoor too. I want it to come back so I can deal with it. I can’t relax not knowing what it was or when it will be back but knowing it WILL be back sometime.
Later on July 4th, 2012
It was a fox and I got him!
I spent most of today nervously checking on the birds. They were clearly freaked out by the horror of yesterday and spent the whole day within feet of the coop. Fortunately there is a lot of shade there. HWA and I were eating dinner when I heard a sound. What I saw when I dashed to the window wouldn’t have alarmed me yesterday but it did today. Several of the chickens were wandering in the chicken yard. Since they had stayed so close to the coop all day, I was concerned this meant the predator had returned so I grabbed my 9mm and RAN down to the coop, with HWA right behind me. I didn’t see any predator, but neither did I see any chickens. All the birds were hiding as best they could; some in the coop, some in the longer grass, many in the weeds behind the run-in. With birds back in hiding, I knew whatever it was, was back, and I wasn’t leaving until the birds were safely locked in their coop for the night.
About 10 mins went by and I suddenly realized I was being watched by what I thought was a small coyote. I watched it cross the road and hide in the hedgerow. HWA took his AR-15 to the front porch while I stayed at the coop with a .22 Long Rifle. Time went by and the chickens started singing the egg song which under the circumstances sounded like a song of distress. I figured they could see it but although I kept scanning back and forth, I couldn’t. The adrenaline was really pumping now. And then I saw it and it was close. First it solved the question for me as to how it was getting in: it climbed my fence like it was a ladder! Sighting on it, I was able to get it in the crosshairs and fire. It was a clean kill – one shot to the head and it dropped immediately. By the time I set the rifle down and ran over to it, it was dead and for the first time I realized it was a fox and not a coyote. It looked pretty darn small lying there on the ground but it was hard to feel sorry for it given the devastation of the previous 24 hours. All told, it had killed 16 of my 40 or so birds.