We have many predators in our area including fox, coyote, racoons, and even the occasional bear. But we have never had any issues with them interacting with our chickens, until 2 days ago.
This past Saturday was my sons 6th birthday party and as the festivities died down it happened. My chickens were attacked by a red-tailed hawk. My husband and sister-in-law were standing 5 feet from where the attack took place. At first they thought it was two chickens fighting but then they realized what was going on. My husband scared the hawk away and they both started picking up and running with chickens back to the coop. I was inside cleaning up and heard the commotion. I ran outside and grabbed two chickens that had taken shelter near the back door. As I ran through the yard to the coop I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a massive red-tailed hawk in the tree above me and SO many black feathers on the ground I thought he absolutely ate one entirely. I was in such a panic and the whole episode seemed like a blur. I was fairly certain we had gotten them all back into the coop safely but as I walked back toward the house I saw little Mary walking bewildered through the snow. My sister-in-law yelled that’s the one it attacked. My poor Mary!
I took her inside to look her over and see where she was hurt. The amount of feathers on the ground lead me to believe she had definitely suffered some injuries. I found a large gash on the left leg that appeared to be mostly superficial. The skin was torn and you could see her muscle. She had some small cuts/scratches on other areas of her neck and side. My mom held her while I cleaned the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and applied neosporin. Mary seemed like she was in shock. I let her walk around in the house for a while and tried to get her to drink something while I tried to figure out where I was going to put her while she healed.
I borrowed a dog crate and made her a roost inside with some scrap wood. I placed her on the roost and she quickly closed her eyes and was ready to sleep and forget about her recent trauma.
The next day I realized that she would need more space or she would go crazy. Luckily, we have an unused bathroom in our house that has a glass shower. My mother-in-law suggested it for a safe place for Mary to recover and I thought that was a perfect idea!
That morning I also realized she had a second large gash on her neck that I had missed in initial assessment. Same type of wound as the first — mostly superficial but large. I have been cleaning them and applying neosporin twice a day. She finally started drinking again when I offered her sav-a-chick electrolyte solution.
I’m hoping with a safe place to recover and some tlc she will be ready to join her friends in a few weeks. She lost about half of her feathers so I will also wait until those are growing back in before sending her out in the cold.