Air Raid Los Altos!

It was about 2:45 in the afternoon.  I had just finished my lunch.  I spent the morning at a conference in San Francisco, and had only been home long enough to eat.  When I came in, the girls were in the yard, greeted me, yelled a little and went on their way.  Baby-Buff was in the nesting box doing her thing.  I went inside and got lunch ready.

Suddenly I heard a commotion in the backyard.  Not the normal “I’m the smallest chicken and I have laid a large egg!” call, nor was it a normal “Alarm, Alarm!” call.  This was the sound of fear and escape. . . I got up from my desk heading toward the back door.  Through the window I saw a hawk taking off out of the garden.  Oh no!

I set down my bowl, spoon and napkin on the washing machine, opened the door and ran outside as the hawk lifted out of the garden and disappeared into the alley.  I was pretty concerned and ran across the yard, into the garden.  There I saw. . . nothing.  No hawk, no chickens, only a patch of Buff colored feathers along the side of the garden, where the girls like to dust bathe in the sunshine.  Three or four of them will cluster together in a 3′ x 3′ raised bed box that has been warmed and dried by the sunshine.  Next to the raised bed is where I found the feathers.  I looked, scanned for any blood, any sign of a kill.  I didn’t see one, but I was still concerned, where were the girls?

I looked around the yard, going to their hiding spots, one to the next, then in the coop.  Finally, in the last spot behind the trash cans, I found them.  Not behind the bins, but shoved up underneath the bins and into a space barely big enough for them to squeeze.  They were freaked out!  I couldn’t see all of them.  I coaxed Penny, Zafira, Goldie and Buffy out.  They were visibly shaken and skittish.  Only Ethel and Strawberry were left in that tiny crevice, piled on top of each other.  Baby-Buff was missing. . .

I went to the coop and looked again, just to see if she was still in there?  She wasn’t.  Buffy, Penny, Goldie and Zafira followed me out and moved quickly up near the back door of the house.  Buffy started walking back and forth giving the alarm squawk and just venting I guess?

Dang, I did not think the hawk was carrying anything when it flew out.  But, I questioned myself, was I sure. The truth is yes I should have been sure.  I am a trained, experienced observer of things, actions, people, places.  It is one of the things I am good at: absorbing information and looking at it, processing it later.

I couldn’t get over Baby-Buff being gone though.  I called Crystal, no answer.  I called her again, no answer.  She called me back after she was finished with her students.  I told her that a hawk had carried off Baby Buff.  She was pretty shaken up by it, so I went to pick her up from work.

When we returned home, the girls were still all huddled underneath the trashcans.  They slowly came out while we talked with them soothingly.  We picked them up individually and looked for injuries.  They seemed unscathed, except for their fear.

Crystal went to the shed to get some scratch for them to coax them out a little bit more.  When she did, there was a rustling sound, like a rodent, that seemed like it came from behind the shed.  We thought maybe it was the neighbors doing something, but then we heard the noise again.  We decided to investigate, so we looked behind the shed.

AND THERE WAS BABY-BUFF!  She had smushed herself in there so far that she was stuck.  We had to move the shed for her to get out.  When she did come out, she was quite scared, and let Crystal hold her for a long time without any fuss.

It was quite an emotional time, since we thought she was gone and then found her unexpectedly.  It’s a good thing we heard her move back there, because she could have been stuck for good!  She wasn’t making any vocal sounds while she was stuck.

For safety, we closed off the garden, unless we are in there with the girls.  And we’ll hang some shiny bits as deterrents.  I think the girls are more savvy now, or at the very least more. . . chicken.

–Greer

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