Of Frosted and Frightened Fowl, and Feathered Friends

Posted by on Mar 4, 2011 in Chickens, Farm Blog | 43 comments

We haven’t done a Fowl Friday post in a while, so I thought we’d do a quick update.  Through much of winter the chickens have been hunkered down, trying to stay out of the rain, and of course, last weekend…the snow.

Frosted Fowl

Our retired orchard hens were somewhat befuddled with the white cold layer that lightly covered the garden on Saturday morning.

"We're California girls...we did NOT sign up for snow!"

Our young chickens, now almost a year old, apparently generated more than enough body heat between them to actually melt the snow on the roof of their coop!

There's no question which end of the coop the girls are housed in at night!

The snow on Frodo’s pen helped to somewhat conceal the fact that as yet, although it’s primed, I still haven’t managed to get around to painting it. Sorry Frodo, I’ll catch up as soon as the hives are painted, I promise.

Snow on the roof of Frodo's pen

Frodo is better equipped for snow than our other chickens though…at least he has leg warmers!

Turns out feathered feet are useful after all

Frightened Fowl

Speaking of Frodo.  Our drama prone rooster has been up to his old tricks, and has continued to garner the attention of the local wildlife during the last couple of weeks.

Frodo - our rooster with at least 9 lives, and counting...

For months, since Zilla was killed, we’ve had a tenacious Bobcat endlessly stalking the fowl on the farm.  The girls have essentially been on lock-down ever since, as the bobcat was sighted almost daily from November through the end of January.  Just as things were starting to calm down though…something else showed up.

We now have a young coyote on patrol

At first we thought this visit was a one off.  This particular coyote looks like a youngster, albeit a rather raggedy looking one.

This coyote slinked down the retaining wall...

...charged toward the pen...

...and the rest, was a blur!

Frodo clearly was not amused by the incursion…

…especially when the next afternoon, the coyote returned!

Like the Bobcat in recent months, this coyote is persistent and has been around almost every day this week.  It’s not the first time we’ve had coyotes around stalking our chickens.

This coyote was wandering near the coop

We don’t see them here as much as the Bobcats, but they are occasionally around in winter and spring, and they’re not in the least bit shy, even during daylight hours.

This coyote was observed stalking our first flock of Buff Orpingtons

To help set up a buffer zone around Frodo’s portable pen, we’ve now put our portable electric poultry fence around the perimeter.  Although the fence doesn’t keep the Bobcats out, it does seem to slow the coyotes down, and helps to provide a buffer zone around the pen so this coyote can’t just walk right up and scare the tail feathers off of our poor rooster.  Let’s face it, losing your tail feathers once is bad enough!  At least Frodo’s pen has now proven to be both bobcat and coyote proof.  Frodo thinks that’s something worth crowing about!

...and no, Frodo still doesn't sound like a typical rooster, but he tries

Feathered Friends

Coyotes aren’t the only wildlife visiting Frodo though…look who was accidentally trapped in Frodo’s pen!

This Dark-Eyed Junco clearly didn't know that Frodo has a 'no subleasing' clause in his contract

This little Junco must have slipped in before I locked Frodo up for the night, as first thing in the morning, there he was, confused and clinging to the side wall.  No worries though, he was quickly released unharmed, and I don’t think Frodo ever noticed that he was there.

43 Comments

  1. How exciting! Maybe a bit too much for the hens and Frodo! I must confess to thinking the Coyote quite beautiful too! Frodo sounds as if he has a frog in his throat. I imagine the Coyote could be a bit startled by his voice too. Beautiful photos and I delighted in your videos too Clare!
    Carol´s last post…Birds in Review Part XXII A Bird Parade Palm Warbler

    • The adult coyote I captured the photograph of was certainly one of the more healthy individuals I’ve seen here, and had a beautiful coat. As for Frodo, I need to convince him to stop standing outside and crowing ‘eat me’ for an hour straight every morning. I’m amazed roosters ever survive when they call so much attention to themselves! ;)

  2. Frodo does sound a bit odd, but maybe that is his coyote call. It does look like a pup, especially how it charged the coop. We have coyote on the farm where I am at, and they can be really viscous. This one is more laid back. Maybe because he is a California coyote, like the California cows! I enjoyed your post today, very entertaining.
    Donna´s last post…Not Your Grannies Orchids Pt1

    • Well, in Frodo’s defense the noise he made in the first video was more of his panic call, not really crowing. He actually does crow too, but still sounds more like a Model A than a rooster :P I think he’s tone-deaf.

      You’re right about coyotes being vicious. We heard a pack hunting in the middle of the night one summer. We could hear them calling down the canyon, and then it seemed they joined up, and targeted a small dog on a nearby property. Not a sound I will soon forget. :(

  3. I think I first found you through my gardening and nature loving friend Carol. So HAPPY to have found you and glad you stopped by for a walk in my garden.

    You are in the middle of a wild area so I know your poor hens and roosters must have a time of it. It is tough because the bobcats are so fabulous too, but their dining habits severely hamper your chickens!

    So much fun following your progress and problem solving.

    Have a happy weekend,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    • I’m glad you found us Sharon, and I love your blog. It was fun to see just how far ahead your SLO garden is.

      We love all the wildlife here, we just have to always be aware of flock security, and do things a little differently here. In the four years we’ve been here, we’ve only lost one chicken to a predator. I was a little upset the bobcat went for one of my biggest and best hens, but seeing him hunt her down less than six feet from where I was standing was impressive to say the least.

  4. I don’t know who enjoyed the video of Frodo more, me or my cat! He’s very interested in where all that squaking is coming from. That coyote looks like it’s young or slightly malnourished. It’s a very slim looking animal. Is there much wildlife for bobcats and coyotes to eat there (besides your chickens of course)? I wonder if that’s contributing to how often they are visiting you.
    Marguerite´s last post…Dashing Through The Snow

    • At first I wasn’t convinced it was a coyote. As I’ve had a chance to see it a number of times this week, part of its body condition and small-looking overall size, is that it is missing most of its fur! In the second video, if you squint, you can maybe just see how rat-like the tail looks, not big and bushy like the photo of the adult. The fur on its body is quite clumpy too. Not sure if some of this is just winter shedding, but it looks to me like this animal either has a skin condition or some other illness causing some excessive hair loss. He shouldn’t be going hungry though. We have rabbits, woodrat, voles, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, rabbits…I just think their eyes pop out when they see our chickens ;)

  5. Oh my! Poor Frodo – he really is a drama magnet! Thank goodness the cage is bobcat and coyote proof – I’ve grown quite attached to that lil’ guy – says the girl who only this morning was saying that she could keep chickens for eating no problem! Might need a rethink on that one…

    • He really is a drama magnet. The coyote walks right past the turkeys, and the large flock of hens, and every time locks on Frodo as the target. Must be his good looks that are so attention getting ;)

  6. That poor rooster is going to have a heart attack.

    And, oh man oh man oh man, you have so much beautiful land…..trying not to envy what others have….
    Lisa´s last post…Sunny Saturday

    • That was my concern, that Frodo will just keel over of fright. That’s why I’m hoping the electric perimeter fence will help. He doesn’t seem to freak out just at the sight of the coyote, only when it’s within striking range.

      I do love our land here, but much of it is scruffy, and was unkempt for years…we’re a ways from beautiful still, but we are very lucky to live here!

  7. First of all, I love your slug photo at the top. Your photos and videos are fantastic!Maybe Frodo would like some socks knitted up, maybe in the color of his neck feathers. The small coyote looks like a young one and the adult is a really beautiful one. I could just see you dropping the camera and running to the rescue! Great post
    Sue Langley´s last post…Creating a long lasting garden

    • I actually did drop the video camera at the end of that second video. Even the pen is coyote proof, I don’t want to prove it ;)

  8. Aw, poor Frodo! Or should I say poor coyotes? They look hungry…. You have the coolest wildlife on your property!

    • Well, Frodo definitely has a better life, in that he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from. I’m not convinced this coyote isn’t a little sick.

  9. Ah, my day is complete! I had so wanted to know how Frodo is, glad he’s well. That Coyote is one attractive-looking animal, too bad he’s not a vegetarian…
    Town Mouse´s last post…Found! Like Minded Gardener

    • Glad we made your day TM. :) It would be nice if I could offer Mr. Coyote carrots instead of rooster!

  10. priceless videos and photos!
    luvarugula´s last post…My secrets of gardening

    • Thanks :)

  11. Oh goody, the return of Fowl Friday! Poor Frodo having to deal with still more drama and trauma. (He really is a very handsome bird.) Is it unusual that Frodo hasn’t really learned to crow like a normal rooster at this age? Is it possible that he is a bit intersexed like your former hen Roo?
    Jean´s last post…Favorite Garden Books- Bringing Nature Home

    • I think part of Frodo’s trouble is that he’s still not full grown, and won’t be for about six months. Those spurs that Siegfried skewered my knee with…Frodo is only just starting to have his spurs grow in, and they hatched at the same time. Frodo’s alarm call in the video is distinct from his actual crowing. Although his crow is improving though, it’s definitely nothing like Siegfried’s. Not sure if it ever will be. It’s not like Frodo hasn’t heard a real rooster before. My money is on Frodo being tone deaf, poor chap :P

  12. I actually miss the coyotes. We had them in our other house but oddly not here – GA is infested with them. They used to make me nervous as my dutch shepherd would absolutely go after one, but once they were gone I realized how much they kept the squirrel population down. Now I have an obscene number of destructive squirrels. Uggh!
    Karyls´s last post…American hazelnut Corylus americana valuable Habitat Garden Plant

    • With as ubiquitous as coyotes seem to be, it does seem odd you don’t have them there. Maybe your local farmers keep the populations down? We need them here, our squirrels and rabbits are damaging enough, and our predators are small, and comparatively few and far between. Now I just have to convince them to hunt something other than our chickens!

  13. The never ending perils of chicken life! I obviously have a romantic view of owning and operating a farm whereas you must deal with all the (real)daily happenings good and bad. Hopefully the additional fencing will keep the coyote away.

    • I think I had a slightly more romantic notion of small scale farming before we lived here. I have to admit though…there’s never a dull moment here!

  14. Dear Clare – Friday is not Friday without a post on CV feathered friends…and furry ones too I see. Captivating shots to illustrate the tale of Coyote vs Rooster. Quite a headache keeping determined predators at bay but Frodo is looking more handsome as the months go by and does not seem too ruffled. His voice just hasn’t broken yet, that’s all ;)
    Laura @ PatioPatch´s last post…Dial Park- Tuning in to Spring

    • I agree, Frodo has turned turned into quite the sweet and handsome chap. Maybe someday he’ll find his singing voice :P

  15. Clare, the life of a chicken is certainly a challenge…The young coyotes was determined. I’ve only seen some really scraggly looking ones around here. Your coyote (not really yours) are quite handsome. Poor Frodo~I am so glad they are all safe in their houses. gail
    Gail´s last post…We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Pollinator Post To Bring You Tommies!

    • Most of our wildlife seems determined here. They’re clearly quite happy we moved here. Tomatoes for the squirrels, fruit trees for the deer and voles, chickens for the bobcats and coyotes. Sometimes I wonder how they coped without us ;)

  16. Hope the electric fence helps keep the coyotes away at least. There’s always something exciting happening around there. Hopefully you’ll have less excitement and the chickens and Frodo can get some peace for awhile.
    Catherine´s last post…Fertilizer Friday – 16 days until spring!

    • So far the fence is doing the trick. I’ve seen the coyote a few more times, but he’s respecting the fence perimeter…let’s see if that lasts.

  17. Never boring at your place! I hope the little grey fellow won’t bring the whole family with him!

    • I’ve wondered about that. I’m sure we’ll be busting out in baby bobcats and coyotes any day…after all, it is (almost) spring!

  18. Is it mean of me to have enjoyed this post? You wrote it in a very engaging manner even if it was about poor Frodo, the hens and the trapped junco.
    Bom´s last post…Are You From Cairns

    • Not mean at all! Even I find it entertaining how much drama one rooster has in his life…and he’s barely a year old! I’m sure there’s more to come ;)

  19. How scary for the chickens! Is there enough wildlife there to feed the coyote and bobcats? The closest wwe come to wildlife are crazy squirrels and overcaffeinated suburbanites. I hope your chickens stay safe.

    • We have tons for them to eat here, far beyond our chickens. Voles, rabbits, moles, gophers, squirrels. I recently found part of an ulna on the hillside, possibly a fawn, so somebody seems to know how to catch some of the larger mammals too. I expect our predators just look at our chickens as easy pickin’s!

  20. 1. Yay! posts about chickens! =) I heart chicken posts.

    2. The 2st coyote DEFINITELY looks quite young and also looks a bit mange-y, so may be more likely than healthier, older, more experienced coyotes to try to nab something from a house vs. the wild. Poor thing looks a wreck.

    3. SUCH a great sign that your chickens melted the snow re: their heat generation. Ooh tho’ I just remembered my North Dakotan husband tells me that also means the place is not that well insulated–tho’ I’ve not insulated my coop, yet… OR painted it =) Gotta get on it!.
    biobabbler´s last post…Phriday photo quiz BONUS PIC for guesses

    • I agree, the youngster is a mess. Never seen a coyote here in quite that state. More hairless though than really emaciated looking. Just strange to see.

      Your husband is right, that snow melt shows that our coop hasn’t had an energy audit lately, and insulation is severely lacking ;) All that heat goes straight through the roof! It’s coastal CA though, not like we really get all that cold here.

  21. Frodo has grown up to be a very handsome rooster! I’ve always enjoyed reading about him and was sorry for the troubles he had.I’m glad he is safe. Do you think there will be a little hen in his future?
    debsgarden´s last post…Chapel in the Woods

  22. I like the alliteration! Those “California Girls” are so Californians! But I must say that you are lucky – you got some snow. We waited all weekend for it but we only got hail – a lot of hail! Your cayote reminds me of a giant hawk that likes to come and harrass our pets dove and finches in their outdoor cages.
    Helen´s last post…Red Intuition

  23. Hi Clare, haha, i love the way you tell your story. We dont have your wildlife here, and i havent seen them in person, but maybe i am like Frodo, frightened. We have the likes of Frodo once when i bought 3 Japanese chicken with those leg feathers. It is a dominant character that even when Moshi, Kyoshi, and Anone are all dead, many of our native chickens now have those leg eathers. Our chickens are free ranged but they come home at night. Once we saw a python already embraced a chicken, but my mother hit it several times while i hold the flashlight. The python is the size of my mid-leg, yes its big! Then it went off slowly to the woods. The hen which we thought is already dead, and maybe she also thought she is dead, after a few minutes she realized she is still alive, and slowly come to life. We were so frightened, my mother was shaking but brave. Imagine hitting that python several times!
    Andrea´s last post…Orchid Show – Post No 2