Bombs Away! (Dive-Bombers, That Is.)

Dive Bomber!

Dive Bomber!

This weekend I accomplished a major feat for my feathered friends, the hens. Well . . . for the hens and Mr. Pants, the coming-of-age, very precocious rooster who was supposed to be a hen.

In this part of the world — the high desert — where there aren’t a lot of big trees, but lots of open spaces, losing small animals to predatory birds is very common. Unfortunately cats number among that lot. But we’re not talking about cats here. For now, I’m talking about chickens.

Last year, about this time, when I was still allowing my small brood of hens to run free, I literally had to wrestle one of them away from a hawk who had her pinned to the ground and was trying to figure out what to do with her. I think the hen was a little heavier than the hawk had anticipated, so lift-off was somewhat difficult, fortunately for me and the hen. I did win the fight, and that hen survived (only to be snapped up months later by a more successful predator whose identity is still an unknown, but I digress).

Now that my new flock is securely enclosed in a rather plush henhouse with two yards and plenty of space, all inside a fence that is totally coyote proof, its only exposure to mayhem is from the sky. I had not thought this would be much of a problem, as the inner yard is covered with wire mesh and shade cloth, and the outer yard is about half taken up with a huge cedar tree whose limbs stretch out all over the place, including snaking around on the ground, which the chickens love.

But oh no. I should be so lucky. Just a mere few days into the introduction of the new accommodations, I looked out my window to see a huge black raven waft gently down out of the sky and land in the cedar tree. He sat there eyeing my then still-small chicks as Bessie quickly herded them all inside under cover. So . . . so much for that theory. (And yes, ravens will eat chicks — don’t know about full-grown chickens yet.)

Cutler’s Poultry Supplies to the rescue. I ordered large amounts of “poultry netting” from them and this weekend strung it up in all directions around the cedar tree, wherever there was exposure from above. Mr. Pants’ hen twin went with me the entire time, stepping along and watching my every move.

Like her brother, this henlet shows signs of being a most inquisitive and intelligent chicken, so is fast becoming one of my favorites. I hate to think about giving her a name because I don’t want to lose her. And, after several years of experience, it appears that as soon as you become attached to a chicken enough to name it, that ensures its demise. . . . except for Bessie, who’s 9. . . . and Mr. Pants, who seems to be indomitable. But again, I digress.

Anyway, we got the netting all up so now it looks like a Ringling Bros. trapeze act out there.

At least I know that if some brash sky-diver DOES come zooming down from the heavens, at least he won’t be hurt!

Never a dull moment around here.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cindy said,

    I had no idea that ravens would eat chicks. That’s kinda depressing. I actually thought they only ate carrion. Guess I need to read more!

    • 2

      Thanks for your comment, Cindy. You know, maybe I’d better check this out further. I was basing my remark on a report from a friend who actually saw a raven sitting in a tree eating one of his chicks. BUT, who knows, maybe the chick was already dead when the raven picked it up. So stay tuned and I’ll see what I can find out!

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