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!