Birds scattered, What happened?

yakitori

Songster
Jun 22, 2020
519
846
171
New York
A little background, I have 5 chickens, 3 guineas. all pullets, no roos.

This afternoon I noticed one of my guinea fowls at the front storm door - a frequent occurrence, but normally all three of them would be there, They are practically shadows of each other and are never seen apart. So... Having only one knocking at the door was curious. Opening the door, I found my smaller EE also present - also odd as she normally avoids the bully guineas like the plague and hangs out with her orloff buddies.

Going out to investigate, I discovered my 2 orloffs at the left side of my house, standing tall and alert on the window sill as if they’re on guard duty, or something. Okay, 4/8 birds accounted for.

About 50ft away from the orloffs is the coop and run, I notice a bird of prey, not much bigger than the chickens sitting on top of the run. My presence scared it off.

Checking the back of the house revealed the rest - 2 guineas, 1 BSL, 1 EE under the porch. possibly hiding. They came out cautiously when they saw me approaching.

This was an interesting dispersion of my birds. Usually when they notice something amiss, their course of action would be to run for the shrubs - together. but not this time.

My guess is that they were spooked by the bird of prey (BoP). So my question is then, why were the orloffs standing in plain view of the BoP? They are my smallest girls. And if the BoP didn’t present a threat, why were 4 other birds under the porch? For birds who are always shoulder to shoulder with each other, how did the guinea get so separated, that two were at the back of the house and one was at the front?

Any experts in fowl behavior out there willing to take a guess as to what happened?

photos of my birds for tax
 

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CluckerFamily

Crowing
Feb 14, 2016
1,608
3,427
281
Wisconsin
Was the BoP a pretty gray/blue on the back and wings with a white-ish belly and could you hear the wings flap when it flew away?
Where do you live?
My first thought was that it could be a merlin or even an owl (if you couldn't hear the wings flap).
Some BoPs will dive to separate their prey sometimes because everyone is running in different directions and sometimes for fun. I'm thinking this was the first time your birds may have encountered a BoP and some didn't know what to do... flee, fight, or freeze. A rooster wouldn't be a bad idea if you have the room for him. When I got chickens I swore I would never get a rooster and then a rooster needed a home so I decided to try him. I will now always have a rooster! A rooster's job is watch for predators while the ladies' have their heads down eating, he will let out a low squawk when he sees a predator and all the ladies run for cover, his job is also to sacrifice his life so that the ladies make it to safety.
Since you don't have a rooster and even if you did, you need to prevent that BoP from entering your run. It will continue to return and slowly take every member of your coop.
 

yakitori

Songster
Jun 22, 2020
519
846
171
New York
Was the BoP a pretty gray/blue on the back and wings with a white-ish belly and could you hear the wings flap when it flew away?
Where do you live?
My first thought was that it could be a merlin or even an owl (if you couldn't hear the wings flap).
Some BoPs will dive to separate their prey sometimes because everyone is running in different directions and sometimes for fun. I'm thinking this was the first time your birds may have encountered a BoP and some didn't know what to do... flee, fight, or freeze. A rooster wouldn't be a bad idea if you have the room for him. When I got chickens I swore I would never get a rooster and then a rooster needed a home so I decided to try him. I will now always have a rooster! A rooster's job is watch for predators while the ladies' have their heads down eating, he will let out a low squawk when he sees a predator and all the ladies run for cover, his job is also to sacrifice his life so that the ladies make it to safety.
Since you don't have a rooster and even if you did, you need to prevent that BoP from entering your run. It will continue to return and slowly take every member of your coop.
Thanks for responding! I'm looking up raptors local to me, and I see that was probably a peregrine falcon? I see it fairly frequently, and I *think* my birds recognize it...
It came around when my birds were chicks as well, I caught it eyeing them one day and didn't let them free range unsupervised after that. Recently though, the girls seem big enough so I've been letting them free range on their own again. They have a covered run, so hawks and other BoP can't get to them when they're inside. As for roosters, well...I have two unsexed silkies, maybe one will be a rooster... but I don't know how useful the fluff balls would be against real danger 😂 Still stumped by why my two orloffs were standing in plain sight 4 ft up on the window ledge. Were they trying to challenge the BoP?
 

Big Doggie

Chirping
Mar 23, 2020
256
298
96
Mass
Thanks for responding! I'm looking up raptors local to me, and I see that was probably a peregrine falcon? I see it fairly frequently, and I *think* my birds recognize it...
It came around when my birds were chicks as well, I caught it eyeing them one day and didn't let them free range unsupervised after that. Recently though, the girls seem big enough so I've been letting them free range on their own again. They have a covered run, so hawks and other BoP can't get to them when they're inside. As for roosters, well...I have two unsexed silkies, maybe one will be a rooster... but I don't know how useful the fluff balls would be against real danger 😂 Still stumped by why my two orloffs were standing in plain sight 4 ft up on the window ledge. Were they trying to challenge the BoP?
I’m guessing that standing as still as a statue is standard procedure for prey animals. Motion is a stimulus for an attack by a predator.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
Nov 18, 2007
23,887
14,827
681
Florida
My Coop
I would guess a cooper's hawk or a sharp shinned hawk. Both are gray in color but smaller hawks. A kestrel would be a quite small hawk.
 

yakitori

Songster
Jun 22, 2020
519
846
171
New York
I would guess a cooper's hawk or a sharp shinned hawk. Both are gray in color but smaller hawks. A kestrel would be a quite small hawk.
just looked them up, it would probably be a sharp shinned hawk, or a small cooper hawk. Thanks!
 

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