August 18, 2016

A fox problem

If you've read some of my other posts, you have heard that we think we have a fox problem.  

While I was away last week we lost one of our darling little ducklings - gone without a trace.  Then it was one of the hens we got from a lady in my church.  Then it was the white Silkie rooster, also from the same lady.  Now the silkie left behind a field of white feathers.  Some in the yard behind the coop, some going up the hillside to the railroad tracks behind the coop.

The one lonesome remaining duckling
Then the next day, I came home from church to find this Barred Rock feathers right next to the door to the coop.  That's at least four birds in a week.  I counted that night when everyone was in the henhouse and I only counted 94.  That means we have lost others too.  Probably close to 10.  

Barred Rock feathers
My husband was out of town for a long weekend and I was getting quite worked up with finding all these piles of feathers.  So I decided to keep the birds penned in their coop/run until he got home and could try to do something about this predator.

I read a lot online and talked to our neighbor Frank, who grew up raising chickens.  From the time of day of the kills - usually middle of the afternoon - and from what remained and where the feathers seemed to lead, we guessed it was probably a fox coming for a chicken supper each day.  

Frank said a big dog on a line behind the coop might solve the issue.  It would bark if anything came into the yard and scare off most animals.  Problem is we don't have such a dog.  

Frank also suggested I walk the tracks to see if I could find any more evidence of the birds or possibly even find a den.  I went up the hill to the tracks yesterday morning.

The only thing I found was some more white feathers from the Silkie.  You could see where there was a somewhat cleared route for an animal to come down from the tracks right behind the coop.  This might be the place to stakeout for our bird killer.

I walked further down the tracks and then circled back through the woods at the back of the property.  I came across this animal trail, but I think this is used more by coyotes, who routinely kill deer in that back field.  Coyotes usually hunt at night though, so I don't think that's what is getting our birds.

I hate seeing the birds cooped up but I also can't stand to find anymore carried off.  Last night Doodle and I stood guard for an hour and a half before bed so the birds could free range a little.  They were so happy to get outside after being locked in for a couple days.  They came streaming out when I opened the door.  Doodle did a good job wandering around but not being aggressive towards any of the birds.

Now my husband is home and a plan is being formulated.  I'll let you know what happens.    

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