Dogs, cats, bobcats, coyotes, opossum, raccoons, rats, raptors, squirrels, snakes, gators and poor neighbors will all steal and eat your chickens and eggs and are a historical facet of chicken keeping heritage. They even end up on your own table from time to time and if none of that, weather and disease, egg binding and age will take it's toll . If you think caging them up will prevent loss you are deluding your self and dragging out your grief when their inevitable end happens. Much better to allow them some freedom and reap the benefits of a varied and natural diet in the form of healthy and tasty eggs, better feather color and general overall health of the flock. An occasional sacrifice to the gods is required and they will take it one way or another.
I lost my Serama rooster D-note to a coopers hawk who later took his sister Partridge through the wire mesh, with her sister Ptarmigan looking on. I was mortified and pulled Ptarmy inside for the winter but realized it was a crappy life being alone and her feather was showing it. It's funny (not really) that it was the two dark naturally colored birds that were lost,
I built a tractor and that is good when I can't supervise but the free range time she gets, the dancing, the dust baths, clover, grass tips, flax and worms and slugs have done her a world of good. Her new friends rooster Chainsaw and micro serama hen, Use-tice fertilize and brood her eggs for her and she runs the yard. I recently brought in two new kids for her to lord over and I am free ranging them with supervision too. They are all very wary of aerial assaults or strange noise or movement.
Sometimes it takes a loss to prevent a loss .
Naive chickens learn from experience and can teach newbies how to protect themselves.
That's the role of the dominant birds. Alert alarm and protect.
RIP D-note and Partridge.
I care for my chickens too much to keep them confined