Monday, June 1, 2009

Wildlife on the farm

Saturday night was not a good night for one of our guinea hens. This particular hen has been acting a little silly lately, and has been refusing to go into the coop at night. I try to coop the hens up at night to protect them from predators. This usually involves me going down to the coop shaking a plastic container of turkey feed, and shouting "here chicky-chicks!". They usually all come running and jump into the coop, I shut the door and that's that. But the smallest hen has been running around the coop, taking a look at the ramp and running back around the coop the other way. On Saturday night, I gave up waiting after 20 minutes and told him (I'm assuming it was a him due to the limited intelligence displayed - ha!) he'd have to suffer outside by himself for the night. Those words will haunt me now. The next morning he was nowhere to be found. John took a look around and this is all that's left of Guinea #7:Someone had a good meal on Saturday night. There were no drag marks, and nothing left but feathers...I'm thinking maybe an owl got our guinea? I guess we'll never know. So now we're down to six guinea hens (3 out of our 4 original hens, and 3 out of 6 of our second batch of hens). The debate has started...do we get more chicks? Losing forty percent in less than a year doesn't seem very good. On the other hand, they better start eating more ticks or they're all going to be fired! I found 18 ticks right on the guinea hen coop the other day! There is something ironic about me picking off ticks from the guinea coop!

More bird stories...

You might remember this post and this post about our Boreal Owl Project. So far, we have no owls nesting in our boxes. I received an email from Randy Lauff the other day, and the overall picture doesn't look good either. The Nova Scotia project has zero nests so far out of a total of about 135 nest boxes. Randy is also mentoring a project in northern Ontario – 200 boxes, one nest. The project in northern Quebec has about 200 boxes, three nests. Here is some info from Randy:

Rodents cycle on average every four years. 2005 was a peak year, ergo, this was supposed to be one, too. Two things could be happening. One, the peak is still coming, nesting is delayed. I have had several nests start in June, so don’t lose hope…please check your nest boxes at least one more time (mid June), but earlier as well if you can. The other possibility is that this is one of those waves in the rodent cycle that is just taking a bit longer…i.e. last year may have been the real trough in the cycle, and we’re on the upswing, not the peak. If that’s true, then maybe we’re just having bad luck, or, nesting is still to come. It could even be that we’re on a very long wave, and that this year is the trough…really bad luck for several of you who have recently come on board.

Not a good time for birds around here! On a happier note, last night at dusk we had four deer running and playing in the field up by our house. The four of them (all females) frolicked across the width of the field and pranced around a bit. Two of them raised up on their hind legs and hit each other...we think they were just playing. Then all four frolicked back across the width of the field. It was great to watch!

6 comments:

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

Sorry about your little guinea hen; mother nature is cruel at times.

laura dellaporta said...

what a sweet blog I will have to read more..sorry about your hen...xoxox laura

aliceinparis said...

Poor #7.
The circle of life, some other creature made it through another day thanks to your wee guinea hen.
I would have loved to see those deer!!!

Christine said...

Would your Guinea hens mate? Do you know if they are male or female? It would be interesting if there was a way to set up nesting for them!

Sara said...

Yes, apparently they mate once they reach one year old....3 of our hens are 12 months old, and 3 are 10 months old. We do have both males and females, although I'm not sure how many of each. According to the internet, the only way to tell is by the call that they make. According to our neighbours, they'll lay eggs anywhere and may or may not sit on them. The hens will disappear for a while and then will come back with chicks. The chicks are REALLY susceptible to damp (ie, dewy grass in the morning), and the mortality rate is very high....guinea hens make really bad moms. So if we do get some chicks, I'll try to capture them and raise them like we did before until they get to be 6 weeks old.

Sara said...

Yes, apparently they mate once they reach one year old....3 of our hens are 12 months old, and 3 are 10 months old. We do have both males and females, although I'm not sure how many of each. According to the internet, the only way to tell is by the call that they make. According to our neighbours, they'll lay eggs anywhere and may or may not sit on them. The hens will disappear for a while and then will come back with chicks. The chicks are REALLY susceptible to damp (ie, dewy grass in the morning), and the mortality rate is very high....guinea hens make really bad moms. So if we do get some chicks, I'll try to capture them and raise them like we did before until they get to be 6 weeks old.