A Weekend Visitor

We had an unexpected guest at our house yesterday. Apparently he thought our free ranging chickens were an invite! I was sitting here at the desk and heard a chicken screaming - yes, they scream when in danger. I ran out there and up against the fence I saw what I thought to be a dog. I figured the chicken had tried to run under the fence and the dog pounced on it so I ran up to the back fence about 5 feet from this when a head turned and looked at me....and it wasn't Lassie! I've never been this close to a bird of prey before and believe me, they are a formidable presence! It immediately spread it's wings out and we just stared at each other for what seemed like moments but must have been seconds. Suddenly, it silently came straight up and flew to the roof, right above where Jason was standing. The chicken scurried to safety, the girls were standing there with mouths agape and Jason and I were trying to figure out what to do. I wanted to get the other chickens put up, but that bird was big and not liking that I already interrupted his meal a first time. When it finally flew into the oak tree by the girls' playset, I got braver. We all suddenly kicked into high gear with the girls gathering the cats inside and I, camera in hand, went hunting chooks. They were all hiding very well and I didn't want to disturb them and have their worst fear realized with a silent swoop, so I just watched the bird and he watched me. This went on for about 45 minutes before he flew into the branch just above the coop and stared into it greedily. I swear he licked his lips. Then he suddenly just flew away to the neighbor's yard. That's when I decided it was our cue to get the chickens to safety.

First I let the goats out. I figured with their horns and larger presence they might deter the predator for awhile. I found 7 out of 11 chickens and got them to safety in the coop with the babies. Flushed out one more and now was only missing 3. Nowhere to be found though. After a long while, I had to give up and figure they would come out before nightfall. I had to trust that the bird was scared off enough, or just annoyed enough more likely, that it went searching somewhere else for the time being. We got lucky, by evening the other 3 gals were clucking around the coop and more than happy to get inside with their friends. All are accounted for, and the one that was almost a meal is fine minus a few feathers.

Today, the girls have to be satisfied with coop and run though. I'm not taking any chances.

What a beautiful creature this was though! We found out it is a Red Tail Hawk. I thought they were much smaller, but nope. About the size of a small eagle and perfectly capable of taking a chicken or cat, or mommy as Xiola feared. Hah! Not quite that big I don't think!

So who showed up unexpectedly for dinner at your house this fine holiday weekend? Hope they didn't cause as much ruckus as our guest did!