Hawks Love Young Chicks

When I returned from buying feed yesterday morning, the guineas were  shrieking up a storm. Imagine a highly strung young matron throwing her apron over her face and running screaming in circles, then you have a reasonable description of the guineas when they see a hawk. The guineas do not yell at cars or stray dogs  but they absolutely hate hawks. The peacocks were at a safe distance hooting in response, it was a regular barnyard protest.  Minty calling for attention. The birds all screaming like harridans at this hawk. 

As I approached with my boomerang stick this tall arrogant bird flew slowly away.  Then I saw the body of a little chicken at the bottom of the post. Quite dead. ( I don’t know why I say ‘quite dead’,  you cannot be a little bit dead can you.) Anyway I went to the chook house to check on the rest of the newly released young chicks to find one more dead and dismembered, and one crouched in the long grass outside the pen, wounded.  They are a good size.  They should have been alright.

So I gathered up my remaining brood and returned them to Fort Knox.  Fed and watered them and made them a perch with my useful broom.  Then tended the ripped sides of  the injured one  and set her in a box of her own beside the others.   Hens will trample and peck at a wounded bird, so if she is to recover, she has to be isolated. But if I am to release her back into the flock she has to maintain her presence. Hence the cage with the cage.  As of this morning she is doing OK. 

Maybe I will try and make one of those arks, and we can start a new flock that rolls across the pasture.  They can turn over new gardens and fertilise the fields. But I am no carpenter so we will have to think on it.

Later in the evening TonTon and I were doing the rounds and we came across this. Now this little fella was a complete mystery. He had been hatched and abandoned. Ton and I looked at him through the fence. I said “We need to go  get him and find his Mama”.

I went out through the gate, through the yards, through another gate and into the paddock where the chick was, to be met by Ton gently laying the slightly soggy tottery wee fella onto the grass at my feet.  He had brought it to me. The terror of the chick must have been total when Ton jumped the fence and lowered his mouth over it’s entire body. The chick’s head must have been sitting in the roof of the dog’s mouth, his little legs wriggling between his lips.  TonTon pushed him slightly with his nose to encourage him to stand upright, then backed up and watched.  I guess TonTon took the words ‘go get him’ seriously. I have got to stop thinking aloud around that dog.  We found his Mama and two others under the yard car. 

The first cut of grass hay was raked yesterday afternoon then a spring storm blew in last night and rained all over it. Misery. Hmm. I will spread it back out to dry today. Not a small job. Then we will start again. One way or another it has to come up off the field. The second cut of hay is the one  that I am after. 

The tractor cometh. The tenant has begun to work the fields around the house. Noisy dusty thing. Soybeans this year.

Good morning. So far our collection of little chicks are still alive. I will drag Fort Knox around the grass today. It is no ark but it will have to do for the moment.

You can see already what my work will be today.  Plus we are doing bees this afternoon, so grab your veiled hats. It is fine, the wind and rain is gone. The sun is up.  And weeding after a rain is always a pleasure. All good on the farmy at the moment.

Have a lovely day.


PS. My Senior Son came to the rescue  and entering the frey on TradeMe, NZ, bought three pots of Marmite at a vastly inflated price. So all is right with the world again.  He tells me that Marmite is an investment product in New Zealand with thriving black market sales.  What a thing!!  And thank you so much for all your offers of help.  I am so grateful to be on your team.  You readers and commenters are the best.  I am a lucky Farm Girl to have such back-up. Now off to work for me!  c


75 Comments on “Hawks Love Young Chicks

    • true roger, I was thinking terms of love to eat! But you are right. Hunt is probably more appropriate.. c

  1. Wow! Hawks can be ruthless….poor little chicks.
    On a brighter note, good for your son for coming to the rescue on the Marmite!

    • Yes it is the way of the world hunters and hunted.. Our job is to protect the hunted too. morning! c

  2. That’s all quite complicated – almost harder to police than a fox. Good luck with the ark.
    TonTon’s a good dog 😉

    • I like the idea of these arks that you shift with the tractor, but the kitsets look astronomically expensive! morning mad! c

  3. I’m so sorry for the loss of the chickens. But I’m so glad Ton rescued the little baby! Maybe it can be one of your visiting birds. We have several that we use for programs at the zoo.

    • Good idea, though I am not sure it will survive.. it looks to me this morning, as though it is blind.. c

      • We’ve got Polish hens at our zoo, and their feathers obscure most of their vision. They rely on the well-sighted hens in the flock to alert them of hawks and such.

  4. thats the thing I struggle with most of all with my animals – the loss of one or more of them. I remember a fox getting in and decimating my girls all in one night ( faulty gate) It took me quite awhile to commit to getting more, they were my girls after all and I had somehow failed them.Have had quite a few more since then – one of the latest a flappy black young hen my daughter has called Posh – as in Posh Pechkam!

    • Morning Sue, you are right, when we adopt animals and cage them we are responsible for their care, though sometimes with all the will in the world things do go wrong. This is the part of farming that is difficult. And we have to roll with the punches. Posh Peckham is a fantastic name by the way! c

  5. When we got our first flock of Rhode Island Reds, Desi got three extra Bantam chicks just for fun. One little grey hen she named Bernadette, and she was a real beauty. One day after she was full grown a large hawk swooped down and killed her ‘quite dead’ right inside the pen. After that came “The Bernadette Project” where we fenced over the top of the pen. Works good to keep out the flying predators…

    • How sad. For a hawk to kill such a big bird, in the pen, that is dreadful. This is why i am thinking of an ark, it is covered and cleaner than the chook house.. A healthier way for the chickens, though i have not worked out what we do in the winter. Maybe the hen house could be their winter home.. c

      • Some people winter their chickens in the greenhouse!

  6. Sorry to hear about the chicks…sometimes The Way of Things is harsh. A friend out in Colorado has had trouble with them taking her adult hens…
    Wishing you good Haying Weather!

    • It is the way of the wild world. i shall have to rethink the situation. once a hawk starts to hunt he will be back.. c

  7. Poor little chicks – they´re pretty big so I was surprised to see what had happened. And good old TonTon, bless him. A final hurrah for Senior Son, your Marmite Dealer!

    • Morning Tanya. they are big, maybe that is why the Hawk did not carry them too far, nasty bird. But hawks have to eat too though i would rather it was a mouse! c

  8. There are so many things to look out for when you have wee birds, it turns one into a veritable Mother Hen – and that includes Ton Ton! Hooded crows are the ones to watch for here, black and sinister things that they are.

    • Crows always look sinister don’t they. and a hooded one sounds like something out of a grimm’s fairy tale! c

    • I am not sure he did not think that the chicken was a fluffy ball and was laying it at my feet in the hope that maybe I would throw it! c

  9. Morning C, What a shock to find the hawk’s victims. Give Tonton a hug from me, and tell him he’s a good rescue dog, but to remember to keep his teeth out of the way. I’m so sorry your flock has been attacked like that – C’est la nature, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Glad about the Marmite.
    PS Yesterday you mentioned raking the hay into hedgerows – is that an American/NZism? I seem to remember raking up windrows.

    • windrows! well you are probably right, i was writing without thinking.. I shall check it, sometimes my words do get mixed up .. of course windrows makes much more sense.. thanks ViV! c

  10. They do get quite a fright from birds of prey…mine run for the big pines, they offer great protection, yet the chickens and ducks can still peer out to check on the hawk’s where abouts. There has been a plethora of dangers about lately; coyotes,red fox and bob cats – Oh my…
    I hope you chick recovers, they are tough birds.

    • chickens are tough, i have nursed some through some pretty terrible injuries, one once had his head bitten into by a rat, was nursed on the verandah for a while, survived and lived for years, this one cannot use one leg though, I am hoping that it is a torn muscle. you have Bobcats!! That must be scary.. c

  11. Oh, how sad! I hate having to find such destruction, your heart falls clear to the ground it is so miserable a thing to do. I have a red-tailed hawk that is hanging around here, it really needs to hunt elsewhere. I told him so, but he just looked at me as he perched on the 730’s exhaust pipe. Then did a swipe of his tail with one foot, and slowly flapped over to the barn. Cheeky thing.


    • Those hawks, so beautiful and so devastating.. part of nature i guess but not a part I like.. c

  12. Nature can be cruel, that’s for sure. I’m tired after reading your post and looking at all that hay…what full and busy days on the farmy, but always enjoyable to see what’s going on and thank you for sharing. So glad your son came through with the Marmite package!

  13. I’m glad you found your Marmite! And how weird about the Hawk. I guess I didn’t know they could be so destructive. Hunting for food of course…buy why had he tried to kill so many I wonder?

    I’m pretty sure that TonTon just might be the most intelligent dog on the planet. 🙂

    • I was away for a few hours.. but that is a very good point, it is also possible that one was injured and killed by the other chickens, John does not want to think that could be true but chickens can be pretty mean.. c

  14. I’m so impressed with TonTon, such a gentleman.. and a mothering type as well:) A true Metro-Man of this century.. wish there were more of his ilk:) That hawk was just doing his business, I know, but the demise of the babies made me so sad.. I hope today shines brighter on the farmy:) xoxo Smidge

  15. Oh Shooot, Senior Son has deprived us of an international Marmite taste critique by our Leader Celi 🙂 , good Man for looking after your Mum. Love your alternate use for your broom … wonder if my birds would like a perch in the Oak tree … So sad about the chicklets. Laura

    • or we could have lined them all up in 5 or 6 different countries and had A Taste Off!!! (laughter!!)

  16. Good thing to know you will be soon fueled with Marmite for your ark-building, hay-spreading, bee-keeping, chicken-nursing day. Sad to lose chicks to predators, but the predators only want to eat.

    • It is just the way of things, that is true Sharyn. He or she probably has chicks somewhere too.. c

  17. Nice to know that senior son came to the rescue. I’m thinking your idea of an ark is the way to go…at least for the warm months.

  18. Ton is an amazing dog! What a treasure to have on the farm. Glad there is Marmite in your future! Sorry to hear the hawk took a liking to your chicks. They can be annoying once they know of a food source. We hear a cacophony of birds when a hawk or other predator is present, sounding the alarm.

  19. Hawks frequently eat where they kill (grim sight for the chicks who escaped – no wonder they shriek so!). In my experience, once they find an easy food source, they return. No sure the best way to deal with the threat, but will pass on any info I discover. I know in west TX the guineas perch/hide in trees. But from your accurate description of all the running in circles, they never would have made it to safety!
    Dogs are quite amazing – TonTon is very smart.
    Wear some good heavy gloves with all that hay to turn.
    Maybe another nap?
    Wishing you mild clear weather for a stretch.

    • The guineas are so big, i think the hawk knew a little one would be easier. The guineas actually race towards the hawks, screaming at them. they are like yapping dogs when they see a hawk.. And you are right. the hawk will be back but all my little ones are safe for the moment.. c

  20. Awww poor little chick without his mama…so glad you found her. I’m sure he was petrified being in Ton’s mouth, but what a good pup for bringing the chick to you. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great morning/day so far!

  21. I’ve wondered if hawks were a problem for you, Celi. Back in Michigan, people with small dogs are aways on the alert for them. Too bad you lost a couple. Sounds like it’s a busy day for you and I hope that it’s good news at the hives this afternoon. Have a great day!

  22. Our chickens get very nervous when they hear the call of a bird of prey. They didn’t used to come round our way, and people said they liked to hint higher in the mountains, but they have found us now. I wonder now, reading your description, if they might have gotten some of our chicks; several times we have found mutilated chicks. I jumped to the gloomy conclusion that they chickens had turned on them for some reason. In that light, it would be nicer to think that it had been a bird of prey.
    Glad to hear you got your Marmite, though. Toast wouldn’t be the same in a Marmite-less world.

    • I never trust chickens, they turn on each other very quickly when they are confined. So I cannot guarantee that the chickens did not join in on the fray. All is quiet today though! c

      • It is something that always surprises me about chickens – they are like little dinosaurs. Yes, I think you may be right. As Ali pointed out, at least one chick was killed in the coop. Glad your lot are getting along, though!

  23. I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful chicks my friend 😦
    But Ton’s rescue is phenomenal – you have one beautiful brave dog!

    Choc Chip Uru

  24. We do the cage within a cage set up as well. We use a large wire dog crate set inside the chicken run. It works really well for introducing new chicks/teenagers to the flock. We leave them in the cage until the flock is bored and disinterested. When we let them out, there isn’t any drama.

  25. Poor wee little ones and then you find a mystery chick. I had a beagle growing up and one day I saw him at attention right by the side of my nephew’s kiddie pool; he had brought 3 baby ducks home and plopped them in the kiddie pool. He also brought home some baby bunnies too. The duck mama and the bunny mama had been run over on the road outside our farm. Human or dog to the rescue – Have a Great Day!

    • Wow, that was an amazing dog! That beagle beats TontTon hands down, i am still quite convinced that he thought the chicken was a ball and maybe I would throw it!! what a fantastic story! c

  26. Oh poor little chookies…how sad…I hope the injured one recovers. It’s the hardest thing with chickens, isn’t it? We want them to have a great free ranging life, but we still have to keep them safe. Ours are in a large moving dome, and we let them out when we’re around, but we’ve had foxes spotted in the area, so I’m always a bit nervous.

    And it’s amazing what a strong instinctive response they have to birds of prey. I opened by black umbrella quite suddenly in the backyard, and the girls went crazy, thinking it was a big black bird…

  27. Everything beautiful has its own natural enemy.

    We have the herons, who fly around looking for back yard ponds. They swoop down when they find one and feast on the koi fish. What a horrible feeling to find a creature you nourished and cared for so terribly, heartlessly destroyed.

    So sorry about the sweet baby chicks.

  28. Now that Ton is one sweet dog. I can’t believe how gentle he is! Love it. Have a happy day today! 🙂

  29. Hawks are ruthless hunters, I’m relieved to hear he didn’t get more chicks. Hope the little injured one survives. How is the other one that TonTon rescued for you? His recovery doesn’t sound too promising. TonTon is amazing!

    • No barb, that little fella did not make it, he was about as big as a dot and walking in circles when we found him.. sad but there we go again with the circle of life, it is ruthless.. c

  30. Nature is ruthless. Poor little chick to be ‘rescued’ by a collie, but what a good dog (sort of!). And such a good son too, acquiring your precious non-Marmite Marmite! 🙂

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