Category / Predators

Chickens Predators Stories from Our Nest

An Uninvited Guest

I knew that it would happen eventually.  I’m not actually saying that this happened for the first time yesterday.  I just happened to see it.  Both kids were home sick with that horrible cough that sounds like a barking seal.  The little one also had pink eye.  Needless to say, instead of braving the crowds and getting a little more shopping done, I was on home arrest, noticing every little dirty thing, clutter, and feeling like I was waiting on two little members of royalty during their recuperation.

If I do say so myself, we have a really nice set-up for feeding the wild birds in the winter.  Our set-up allows the birds to have a smorgasbord of sunflower seeds, nyger seeds and suet all at the same time.  However, the best part of the arrangement is that it is completely squirrel proof!  This is entirely another whole blog entry as it took us two years to perfect. 

So yesterday, as I was emptying out the dishwasher, I caught a large bird sitting on top of the feeder’s arched pole.  At first, I though maybe it was a blue jay.  No, it seemed a little bigger.  Maybe it was a large woodpecker that we typically get; like a flicker or a hairy woodpecker.  No, it was bigger than that.  As I walked over, it dawned on me; it was a hawk.

My husband happens to be a birder, so I have become pretty familiar with the local birds that visit our yard.  I knew that it was either a red tail hawk or a Cooper’s hawk.  Upon closer inspection, based on the size, tail pattern and breast coloration, it was definitely a Cooper’s hawk! 

I was shocked that it was just sitting there.  Of course, the feeders were all empty except for the rotund happy squirrel on the ground gathering the discards in his cheeks.  I was surprised that the hawk did not go for the squirrel.  I was even more surprised that the squirrel seemed to know that the hawk didn’t want him.  You see, Cooper’s hawks love chicken.  In fact, early colonial settlers called them chicken hawks.  Apparently, the squirrel and the hawk knew something tastier was in the yard.

The hawk flew from the top of the feeder pole to a rustic chair that I have on the front lawn.  It sat and glared over at the chicken coop.  It was only 14 degrees yesterday due to the Alberta clipper we were experiencing and I am sure that he was hungry.  I’m not sure if the flock saw him.  They were not free ranging yesterday, as it was even a little chilly for them.  They spent most of the day in their coop coming out in the run for water, scratching a little then returning inside.  He sat perched on top of the chair for about five minutes and just as I thought to grab the camera, turn it on and line up the shot, he flew away.

I had seen hawks circling over the yard.  I had seen hawks fly over the yard.  I now know that they know about the chickens.  I am sure that they will be back knowing a chicken buffet exists in our yard.  In fact, I thought that I would have seen one in the yard sooner.  This was my close encounter with a chicken predator.  I’m sorry Mr. Hawk, for now, something else will have to be on your menu.

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 4 of a 5 Part Series

THE FIRST SIX WEEKS

I think that you will be utterly amazed at the pace in which these adorable little chickens grow! Don’t blink because you will miss it! Take the time to enjoy them.  They should start to develop a pecking order. Every flock has one.  By watching your flock, you will be able to determine things such as; Who eats first?  Who eats last?  Who seems like an outsider?  Who sleeps next to whom?  Who plays together?  Who is the smartest one?  Who is the fastest?  Your answers will help to determine their pecking order.  The idea of a pecking order is hardwired into every chicken from days when they had to survive in the wild.  Each chicken will have a role.  These roles are fought for or settled on depending on how the chickens jockey for position.  There is not much you can do to change it.  Once a true order is established, it should not change.   The only exception to this is if you add or subtract anyone from the flock.  Of note, roosters are not part of the pecking order.  Roosters are separate from the hens in this manner.  If you have more than one rooster, there will be an alpha rooster and the other will be submissive to him.  They may fight now and then and sometimes it is deadly.  The rooster’s role is to be a protector of the flock and to fertilize eggs.  If a predator attacks, it is the rooster that will sacrifice himself for the sake of the girls.

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 3 of a 5 Part Series

THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER

As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder.  This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks.  For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F.  This is maintained by your heat lamp.  As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered.  When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside.  At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside.   Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point.  We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks.  After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp.  Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds.  Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage.  Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 2 of a 5 Part Series

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GOING SHOPPING

Preparing for the arrival of the chicks was so exciting!  It was almost like Christmas.  We counted down and with each passing day, our anticipation rose!   In our household, it was a family affair.  I ordered the chicks in February for a June delivery date.  Why did I wait so long?  Well, I had a few reasons.  I wanted to do more research about their permanent coop and run.  I also knew that the chicks would grow very quickly.  In fact, at about 6 weeks they look like mini-chickens!  I wanted the kids participate in the experience as much as possible, so I waited until summer vacation.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 1 of a 5 Part Series

So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way.  However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier.  So, lets start at the beginning.  How do I get the chickens?