Copper and the Coyote

It is a cold and drizzly evening. We are expecting a late freeze tonight as we light the fire in our wood stove, probably the last cozy fire we will have this spring.

Sitting down at the dinner table to enjoy a healthy salad, I heard a hen clucking like crazy right behind me outside the dining room window.  This is very unusual behavior from our chickens, since they have never, ever ventured this far up towards our house. The coop is way down the driveway from the house, approximately 160 yards away.

We continue eating, waiting for the hen to jump up on the back porch and peek inside the windows of the french doors to watch us eating, but the clucking went on without her appearing.  I got up and went outside to see what was going on. Mara and the two Welsummer sisters were nervously clucking and peering around  the far south side of the house, and then I noticed Mr. Knightly and Emma on the north side of the house, running up into the woods. Very strange behavior for my birds…but I didn’t take it seriously, as I should have.

I went back inside to eat my salad, thinking I would take care of the chickens when I finished dinner, when out the front window I saw what looked like a brown and black animal running across the field…I thought maybe there were two dogs running together, a black one behind the brown one, but a little ahead of it…

field

I placed the arrow in the picture above so you can see where the animals were running. The animal closest was about the color of the hay, but what I realized was the black animal  was probably one of the chickens. It was some kind of animal running away from the coop with one of my chickens in it’s mouth!!!

When I told my family what I had seen, my son immediately exclaimed, “A coyote!”

Coyote_arizona

Coyote ~ Wikipedia

I grabbed my barn boots and jacket and ran down to the barn as fast as I could, my husband not far behind me. Finding one Marans hen in the coop peacefully laying an egg, and  totally unaware of what was going on outside, I counted 5 hens and one rooster… that meant there was one rooster and 3 hens not accounted for…

And then I saw the feathers…

feathers

And further on I saw Copper’s tail feathers…

feathers2

And more feathers down in the creek…

feathers3

We looked for paw prints, but couldn’t find any…

My husband and son looked further down the road, but spotted nothing. And then as my son started looking towards the woods, Copper the valiant rooster came swaggering out into the field… He looked dazed and wet and his tail had been completely plucked…I wrapped my jacket around him and took him back to the coop…

Remember Copper…

copperHere he is now…

Copper2

Poor thing, but he is alive…definitely a changed rooster…

Copper

Hopefully he will feel better in the morning.  Another of the Marans hens had been up in the woods with Mr. Knightly and Emma. Now there were only 2 missing. What  a surprise when Ruby Hen came out of the woods, a little wet and scruffy with a few of her tail feather’s missing, but clucking away cheerfully.  I just wish I could understand what she was saying…

Ruby

Was she perhaps saying how valiant Copper was that he distracted that coyote from her and took him on, risking his life?  We’ll never know.  I tried to get a picture of the back of Ruby, so you could see some of her feathers were gone, but she was running around so quickly I couldn’t get a shot that wasn’t a bit blurry…

Ruby2

This is not the end of this story. We have one hen not accounted for, but I haven’t seen any of her brown feathers, so I’m hoping that she is still alive and hiding somewhere. The coyote will be back. We have 3 traps set up for it.  It’s just a matter of time.

Now I have to figure out how to protect the hens until we capture the coyote…

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29 thoughts on “Copper and the Coyote

  1. I’d keep them locked up tight till he is caught. Dad had a coyote nearly wipe out all his hens in one afternoon. Kept coming back, till I got home and killed him.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if they stop or slow down laying after that attack. Glad to see they are mosty okay (except for the one MIA).

    If you guys ever need extra eggs let me know.

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  2. Oh Dear, it’s always distressing to have the hens attacked. Here we have to be wary of foxes and we keep our hens behind an electric poulty net so that they are not completely free range, but can just range within the poultry net. So far , touch wood, we have not lost any to foxes this way. They have plenty of space ot roam around within the net so are quite happy. sorry to hear of your loss

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    • We just bought some electric netting to go around the garden. I think we better use it around the chickens instead. Thanks for sharing that info. I really wanted the chickens to be able to roam freely, but I guess this is the reality, since there are so many predators out there.

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    • Being that they molt and the feathers grow back, I would think his would grow back too. I hope so anyway, because they look a little strange without them. He really needs some doctoring this morning. I’ll keep you posted.

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      • My polish boy has been w/o his crest feathers for a long time… I would have thought they would grow back, but nope. Was he bleeding? Or just plucked off? Scary 😦

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        • He was just plucked. Oh, that’s sad about your polish boy. I guess I’ll just wait and see if they grow back or not. Crest feathers may be different than tail feathers…? I have no idea if they grow differently.

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          • Maybe it is just my chickens bc a few of the hens are missing back feathers, from the too many rooster problem we now corrected, but they are not growing back in yet… This is a learn as we go process, so time will tell for us both 🙂

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  3. Wow! The coyotes are so bad around here. I saw a pack of 5 yesterday looking out Charley’s kitchen window. They were just as happy as they could be running through the pasture like thy owned the place. I hope he makes it through ok!!!!

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