Lately, the chickens have begun trying to spend the night on the patio, under and upon the patio furniture under the gazebo canopy and next to the house. After fifty or sixty birds sleep on the patio it is not a pretty sight in the morning -Thank goodness for power washers! We have been shooing them away from the patio each evening, sometimes deterring them with a spray from the hose, until they finally begrudgingly find a new roosting site for the night. Last night, most of them chose to gather together around a large tree by the garage. After their usual evening squabbling and vying for position it became quiet.
It was almost midnight and we were all asleep except for Sara, the insomniac daughter, working on her computer. Suddenly there was a terrible commotion--squawking and clucking and quacking. The male duck especially was in a state of agitation. Sara ran downstairs and went outside to investigate.
There, in the driveway, she saw a dark form. It was the terror of the night- the great-horned owl- and he had the female duck in his talons. Sara approached and the owl turned his head to look at her, then let go and flew off.
The duck sat very still, probably in shock. Sara stroked the duck and her hand became covered with blood. Sara was certain the duck would not make it through the night but a bit later she checked on her again and the duck had managed to move to a sheltered spot beneath the hammock. The duck remained there all day. This afternoon when I took her food and water she got up stiffly and waddled away with the male. (She is the top duck in the photo.) Perhaps she will be ok.
Now I feel guilty for chasing all the birds away from the patio, the place they must believe to be the safest spot on the farm.