Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Predators afoot

Well...it finally happened. I must have jinxed myself by saying "We don't really have a problem with predators" too many times. Somebody slap me! *sigh* A few weeks ago a grump guinea went missing. (she was grumpy with me for stealing her keets) It happened the day after I took away the babies she had helped to brood. They are NOT very good mamas at all....but I digress. When she went missing I assumed she had taken over the only nest I couldn't find. I watched every day and count the guineas so when she came back to eat I could follow her back to her nest. I never saw her, but they do look an awful lot alike and I thought that I was just missing her. So I faithfully followed those guineas around day after day but they never went to visit her. I was sure she'd come back with babies in tow a few weeks later.

2 days ago I went outside to see what the guineas were screaming about (again) and found a puff of feathers in the yard. Blue Marans feathers. Ut-oh. I looked and looked, but nothing. Finally I took the dogs into the woods and wouldn't you know, they found feathers! At least a full acre from the yard, the feathers started in a circle and we followed a 20 foot trail of them until they went under a fallen tree and beneath some vines. There we found lots of feathers and a wing. We looked a little more but it was like it started at one spot and ended at the other. We're thinking it was a hawk. My poor lovely little blue girl is gone....RIP Blue. We buried what we found of her under the big tree by the duck pen, next to her daddy Mr. Copper.
Yesterday I was following the guineas (again lol) and heard some awful shreaking from the sky. I look up and count 8 hawks circling overhead. I run around and do the bird count and come up short 1 guinea! I check all the nests...nope, not setting. Unless there's yet another nest I don't know about which is highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Her BF King Julian was in the yard with his other GF. So I decide since it's getting dark, I'll follow them to her in the morning.

Only they didn't go to her. So, another day spent scouring the woods for a guinea hoping to find her on the nest. Even the dogs were looking! No luck at all. I kept the main flock locked up so I could easily count the 5 that were out in case she came back. All day long, there were only 5 in the yard.

I'm not sure what to think about the guineas. They very well could be setting...especially if the predator is a hawk. A hawk wont find a guinea hidden by ferns and branches under the trees in the woods. A raccoon will. We relocated 8 adult raccoons and a baby this spring...and the traps are back out now. I doubt we have both raccoons and hawks at the same time. The only other option is that those 2 guineas really didn't wander off to set on nests, they were snagged right out of the yard by hawks. *shudders*

I did learn something about hawks this week...they don't like firecrackers. I'm talking about those simple little ones in the 20 pack. I set them off one at a time and the hawks kept flying higher and higher till they gave up and flew off. Don't shoot them at the hawks! That's harassing to them....they are a protected species. I just toss them on the ground about 3 feet away from me.

I'll keep up my daily hikes with the dogs looking for guinea nests, but I'm pretty sure nobody will be free-ranging for the next few weeks. Gotta keep my babies safe!

~L

1 comment:

  1. Ah ha! I found you again! I had come across your blog here a while ago and wandered over to your other site but then lost this link. I sent you a message through there yesterday but continued my search for this page and am so glad I found it. We have chickens (mostly Red & Black Stars, Buff Orphingtons and Auracanas) and just this year added some Guineas (Pearls, Purples, Lavendars and a Blue). Sadly we lost about 5 Guineas to fox so we feel your sadness (and anger and frustration!) about the predators as well. :-( We dealt with the Hawks and Owls with netting a huge area for them to be in but the fox just keep finding ways in.

    One of the things I was wondering is if you could post pictures of the inside of your new chicken house? I love the look of it -much nicer than our plywood coops- and would love some ideas for making ours nicer!

    The other thing is about your French Copper Marans. Do you sell eggs or chicks of them? If so, do you ship? We live in the Lowcountry area of South Carolina and would LOVE to add some of them to our flock!

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