cluckheim calls for aid.


The new patio, pieced together from leftover granite and marble countertop pieces.

A little while ago I was out on the new patio area, putting together some planters and trinkets the wife had ordered for the new outdoor space. As I was screwing together the driftwood planter, I heard the characteristic “red alert” bawk-bawk-bawking of panicked chickens. I dropped my tools and sprinted through the covered porch and into the front yard, thinking that a weasel or fox had gotten into Cluckheim Keep despite our iron-clad security setup.

As I ran into the front yard with the shotgun, I saw the cause for the chicken distress swoop out of the sky and hit the chicken run a second time: a buzzard, almost as big as one of our Barred Rock hens (and they are large birds.) He flew off and settled on a tree branch at the edge of the yard.

I brought up the Remington and put the front sight bead on him. It would have been an easy shot, maybe twenty-five yards, a no-brainer with a full choke on a sitting bird.

He just looked at me and the chicken coop as if to say Screw you and your boomstick, hairless ape.

I turned the gun over to the hillside for a safe backstop and let off a shell to scare him off. He looked, spread his wings, and flew off in no particular hurry, as if he knew that he’s a protected species. (Not that I would have shot him even if he wasn’t—they eat rodents and other pests and are way too beautiful to kill, and the chickens are safe from him in the run in any case.)

In summary: birds of prey are beautiful, everything out here in the woods eats chickens, and a solid run enclosed in half-inch hardware cloth is a chicken’s best friend in these parts.

15 thoughts on “cluckheim calls for aid.

  1. Do you mean “buzzard” in it’s US meaning as a synonym for vulture, or in its European meaning of “hawk (genus Buteo?) I’m guessing that you saw a Red-Tailed or Red-Shouldered Hawk, in other words?

    And yah, that sounds sort of like how King Arthur answered the Bridge Keeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    • In its European meaning. It was a large red-tailed hawk, I think. We called them bussard (buzzard) in Germany.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. I had the most peculiar look on my face, having never heard the words “beautiful” and “buzzard” before in the same sentence. I did not know that furriners said buzzard and meant hawk. Learn something new everyday.

  2. Nice patio. Sand base or concrete?

    Either way be careful, in winter snow shovels can be hell on those corners

    • Sand base, with a concrete lip around it. We have a new and very elaborate drainage system underneath now, and the sand will let the water drain.

  3. Oh and since it was a Hawk he was probably reading the serial number on the gun from there, that and counting your nostril hairs and checking out your pupil dilation.

    Being up close to one of those is very cool, the intensity of a raptors gaze is something else.

  4. Probably more likely a coopers hawk or a young goshawk hunting chickens. But a redtail is pretty distinctive. This time of year the first year birds are out on their own and learning to hunt.

  5. Nice outdoor room!

    We’ve got a few granite pavers that are dangerous slick when they get wet. Did you do anything with those left overs to get some traction?

  6. That is a lovely patio! Do the munchkins sub-contract? I’ll cover shipping and feeding if you’ll send them out here to do a small leveling and addition to my back porch.

    We have Mississippi Kites that occasionally view our birdbath as a buffet. Keeps the doves on their toes, so to speak.

  7. I doubt the bird was a Coop. They are very high strung and don’t generally engage in stare downs. If the bird you saw didn’t have rust-colored tail feathers, it was probably a juvenile red tail hawk since the adult plumage doesn’t come in for a few years. Redtails don’t move for anybody. I rehab raptors and we have to chase them around to build up their flight muscles before we release them. Sometimes they just don’t bother to move anyway; they know who has talons.

    • I’ve had a few coops give me a stare-down. It doesn’t happen often but accipiters will sit still now and again.

  8. I was confused too. I was picturing the turkey vultures that loiter in our canyons like overweight gang members and going “….what?”

    I am inherently distrustful of hawks and most particularly eagles. Along with ratites they strike me as having some memory of the days when they were predatory dinosaurs, and the weakling mammals fled.