Friday, February 1st, 2019
Well, I learned a valuable lesson today.
Our resident pheasants were all out again today, soaking up the twenty degree weather. You know they’re hungry, because even when I walk outside they duck down but don’t retreat to the safety of the tall grass. They evaluate the threat of my presence instead of instantly fleeing like they normally do.
So this afternoon around one o’clock, I let the girls out of the coop to soak up the sun and warmer temperatures. Even when their run door is open, I have to let them out the front onto our cement pad in front of our garage, because they refuse to go through the snow. They happily preened their feathers, and napped in the sun. I came back inside and went about my day.
Around three o’clock is when my lesson was learned.
I was standing in the kitchen, watching out the front window. A large bird such as an eagle or hawk was circling the lake in front of out house, so I was watching him, hoping he was finding a meal under all this new snow.
Then he tucked in his wings and flew in the direction of our house.
And he just kept coming. And coming. And coming.
Until he was in our front yard. A Red Tailed Hawk.
He was zoned in, and with very little regard for our house, must’ve flown only feet over our propane tank, 20 feet from the side of our house. I ran from the front of our house to the back, and made it seconds before he went for a rooster pheasant only feet from our garden in our backyard.
The rooster flushed and made it to safety, but I stood there with my mouth hanging open for at least thirty seconds.
It was truly incredible to watch – you don’t realize just how big they are until they’re literally in your backyard. He zeroed in on that rooster from a half mile away, and I had never seen anything like that in person.
Then I realized my chickens were outside.
I barely got shoes on before flying out my front door. They all heard the door and came over; I did a head count and had all six.
Relieved, I went back inside for my camera. Came back out, walked around our house, and sure enough there he was sitting in a tree (probably eyeing up my girls), and was able to snap a couple photos as he flew away.
Lesson being that all of the things I’ve read about raptors stealing and eating chickens are not over exaggerations. Had my girls been out in the yard instead of snugged up next to our garage door, he probably would’ve gone for them.
I’m sure at this time of year with the weather we’ve had he’s going after larger birds solely out of his desperation for a meal, as mice and smaller varmints make for an easier catch but they’re harder to find in the snow.
Either way, lesson learned!