Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring is here...

... the turkey toms have been letting me know, the spring peepers have given me their opinion. My hens were finally able to take walks again and instantly perked up in behavior and looks. But then, the happiness came to a certain halt today when in the middle of a playdate pickup, this scene happened in my back yard:

I gave the hen (Oreo) up for dead, and went to grab my phone off the table, then a broom to chase the hawk. Though I didn't think I could save the hen, I did not want him (I'm convinced it's a him, though I have no evidence) to think of our backyard as an all-you-can-eat buffet in the future.

As I approached him with my broom, he was entirely underwhelmed by me:

It's not that I'm an amazingly fast photographer to snap this picture. It is that this bird was one hundred percent in control of the situation. He stared me down, probably judged me for my inability to keep my composure even half as well as he did, and did not let go of the hen. When I started actually bumping him with the broom, he let go of one talon, but the other held on tight to the hen's head, dragging her along with him. At that point I realized that Oreo was alive.

I finally chased off the hawk, though he did not leave entirely. He continued to stalk us as we hurriedly got the rest of the flock into the pen (which is covered in the top, bottom and around). He attacked a second hen, who was saved by my daughter's interfering. Then he sat for over an hour on a tree and waited. Two hens were still in hiding and we were unable to find them. I wrapped the injured Oreo, who was limping around now, in a towel and put her in a cage we keep around for times like these, for further evaluation.
By the time we sat down to take a better look at Oreo, the hawk had spied and attacked one of the last 2 hens, but again we were able to chase him away. The hen, though, was not to be found for another few hours, such patience and self preservation instincts, she stayed quiet as a mouse under the neighbor's handicapped entrance ramp.

I decided for the first time in my 6+ years as a chicken keeper that I should take the striped hen, Oreo, to the vet. She was seemingly well, but at the same time injured to such a degree that I was sure she would soon die of infection if left in home treatment only. And then there were the little humans to consider, who had been incredibly brave and patient, keeping a watch on the hawk until all hens were safely in the pen again. I was sufficiently impressed with them and Oreo's will and ability to walk away alive from this situation that I found a vet and took her in for the night. The vet thought her lung might be injured beyond the superficial skin wound I had found and cleaned on my own. Only time will tell the severity of that. For now, she should be resting and be medicated, it is praying time.


  1. How is Oreo this morning? We're keeping our fingers crossed!

  2. Oreo did not make it - the vet put her down after observing overnight and suspecting a punctured lung.