Sunday, July 09, 2006

Glowing Eyes

Eyes. Glowing eyes. That’s all we could see last night of our possibly resident predator, staring down at us from a tall windbreak pine.

We awoke about 12:30 am to deathly shrieking. WF was out the door before I was even really awake. I put on boots and a headlamp and went out to find him staring up into the tree, ready to climb after this thing! All was quiet by now, but WF had thought he’d heard hissing. I looked up into the tree and first saw the pair of green, glowing eyes, quite far apart, indicating something fairly big. Our brains cleared a bit and WF decided that maybe climbing a big tree in the dark towards something with a clear tree-climbing advantage (and claws) was not wise.

We checked all 3 chicken housing areas, and thankfully all seemed well. The shrieking must have been the death call of a rabbit or chipmunk, maybe? All stayed quiet- the chickens were not even riled up.

We went back and looked into the tree with headlamps, and the two green eyes stayed put high in the tree, calmly looking back at us. We told it in no uncertain terms it was not welcome and that it should leave, but couldn’t think of anything else to do at the moment. I suppose some people would immediately think of hunting, but we have no guns or traps, and what if it is a protected species?

The tall tree is part of our farm windbreak and marks the edge of the yard and chicken housing; beyond is an old shed and two of our garden plots. A robin had been nesting in the old shed; WF saw the three blue eggs and a concerned mama robin a few times. The one day about a month ago all was quiet and he found only a few remnants of an adult bird, and later a predator-type poop on the outer compost pile.

Hmmm. That was all outside the windbreak and we’d seen no sign of trouble inside the yard area. But then yesterday morning WF saw some suspicious tracks in the dew on top of the Chicken Tractor… possibly Fisher, Marten or maybe Raccoon, we’re not sure. They were pretty vague tracks. I think last night’s performance narrows it down to possibly Marten or Fisher? We know people who have lost cats to Fishers in our general area, which is why we don’t allow the cats out after dark.

So what to do now? We just left it in the tree and went to bed (after telling it again to GO AWAY- can’t hurt to ask, right?). We’ll keep checking the chicken housing to make sure it’s as strong as possible and definitely enforce the more-indoor cat rules. WF feels it will only strike at night, but I’m more of a worrywart. A friend over in WI had a marten come right into their yard and grab a chicken in front of them one evening last month. She says: no more free ranging chickens for them. Should we also do that? It seems a shame, but I certainly don’t want to hear that death-shriek coming from one of our own critters…

1 comment:

Sue said...

Sorry about your livestock-worries, and hope you don't lose any chickens or cats. On the flip side, how very cool that you live in an area still wild enough to support a fisher or marten!