Shades of Ireland

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birds of Prey

I have always loved birds. I am not an avid birdwatcher but I am able to identify several different kinds. My favorties have always been the raptors. There is something very majestic about hawks, eagles, and even vultures. This time of year, you can see hawks, falcons, and kestrels of all sorts sitting in fence posts along the road or swooping low over the plowed fields.
Being of the poultry raising persuasion, it is hard to balance my love of hunting birds with losing chickens.
Since we have moved here, I have lost several birds to owls at night and I have seen redtailed hawks eyeing my hens. One guy is particualrly bold and I caught him eating one of my young pullets this past summer. He has it on the ground and had almost finished his meal when I walked up on him. He flew up into a nearby tree and perched there and dared me to take his bird. I didn't. I figured all was fair since I hadn't gotten the pens fixed and was letting the hens free range. I have tried to do a better job of keeping them penned but...... I am just a free range kinda gal..... I like seeing my girls scratching about and they all seem so happy. During this last bitter cold spell, the chickens were free ranging because we are basically lazy. I have a big pet water bowl that stays heated up near the house. It is supposed to be for the dogs, but the chickens love it when it is cold. It was just easier to keep the pet bowl full than haul water out to the frozen chicken pens.

Yesterday, I walked out of the garage back door heading over to the barn to give the lambs their lunch--- and noticed a big pile of grey feathers under the brooder. On closer inspection, it wasn't just feathers-- the hawk was still under there, too! Grabbed a stick and tried to push him out. He grabbed it with his talons and I pulled him out..... What confronted me, was not for the faint of heart!

This was the same red tailed hawk that I met earlier this summer. Now I realized why he was so bold. He is missing part of his left wing. He is still able to fly but not well. That severely limited his hunting ability and that is why he has been hanging out at the McCarter Chicken Buffet. I left him to enjoy his bantam hen and fed the lambs. About an hour later when we came back, the dogs scared him off. I watched him fly very low and perch across the pond dam in a spindly tree.
So--- I have been thinking about how I am going to add this straggler to the menagerie with out feeding him my hens....... 
 I remember that before deer season, we set up the deer cam over in that area that he seems to favor. We put out whole corn hoping to catch pictures of deer. We did get a few but actually got more pictures of rabbits pilfering the corn. I think that I am going to keep putting out the corn and hope that this hawk helps me with the rabbit overpopulation problem..... Maybe I should set the deer cam back up,too. Might get some intersting shots. 

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