Foxed again…. or was I?

This time of year can be quite busy for foxes around these parts. There’s young mouths that need feeding and if the local rabbit population is a bit low then brazen foxes will head for my poultry flocks.

It is also that time of year that broodiness can start to appear in hens. Most of the time my hens will lay claim to a nest box in a coop but every now and then there will be one that furtively lays a clutch in a hedgerow or some undergrowth. Each day she will lay an egg in her secluded nesting site and each night she will roost in the coop with the rest of the flock.

Unless I’m very lucky I’m usually unaware of her activities until one day I don’t see her out and about, or she doesn’t emerge from the house in the morning with the rest of that flock. A sure sign she’s sitting tight somewhere and a fairly sure sign that if I don’t find her then she won’t make the 21 days incubation before being eaten.

Sadly this morning when doing the rounds I found the feathers of a cream legbar hen in the field. She came out of the coop the previous morning but I suspect last night was her first, and last night incubating the clutch (which I later found under a shrub).

Killed by a fox is my usual conclusion as they are the main predator around here and their modus operandi with single birds tends to be a feathers at the point of capture and feathers at the point where they have accessed and exited the property (as it’s likely to have been a squeeze). This morning though after a Horatio Caine CSI moment I reached a different conclusion which I believe lets the fox off the hook…

eyes2

Look at these two pictures…

20150514_075756 20150514_075902

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are taken from opposite sides of some relatively small gauge stock fence. There are feathers on both sides with a lot close to the fence line. Something has gone through the fence with the dead bird. The legbar isn’t a heavy breed and a fox would have easily carried it over the fence or gone around as a fox is too large to squeeze through the fence. What we have here is a mustelid kill. This bird was taken by some ferret or polecat derivative I suspect.

So apologies foxes for jumping to the wrong conclusion and hello to a new predator most probably of the mustelid kind!

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Foxed again…. or was I?

  1. Sorry to hear you lost a hen. Ours are all alive despite family of urban foxes nearby an one of them being reluctant to come out of the coop at all. Thanks for your advice..

  2. I’m sorry you’ve lost your legbar. Will you be able to incubate the eggs you found? I’ve been very lucky not to have lost any birds to predators for the last few years. I did once lose four in one go without any sign of feathers at all so not sure what got them. If there is a mustelid on the prowl what, if anything, can you do to deter it Andy?

    • Thanks Sally. With her having only just started to sit I decided not to bother with the eggs. She was part of a mixed flock anyway so they won’t have been pure. With regard to our new visitor I suspect it is probably one that was lost by the local rabbit catchers. I’ll set a trap at the weekend and see what happens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s