Something's troubling my adult flock - can't figure it out!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gritsar, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My adult flock has been on edge, very jittery, since one of the flock members was killed by a hawk a couple of weeks ago.

    I have spent alot of time with them since then and they seem to have mellowed out a bit. They've even started foraging a bit again, rather than staying hid up in the bushes all day. Then a new behavior started today.

    I opened their pop door as usual this morning, but instead of tumbling out and making a beeline for their morning scratch as they usually do, not one of them came out. They are all standing at the back of the coop, as far as possible from the one open window (covered in hardware cloth) as they can get. Finally, Lilith came out, grabbed a bite of scratch and then ran right back to the coop. A little while later both Lilith and Maggie came out, but they ran straight to their favorite bush. Now they are both just standing there under the bush and Maggie is cackling like crazy.

    I have checked the coop out thoroughly, including the nestboxes and under it. I have visually inspected every single tree in the garden/chicken area, slowly from top to bottom. Nothing. I am pretty good about spotting anything out of place. I spotted a hawk in a field yesterday (far away from the farm), that no one else saw until he moved.

    This is the first time in their 2 and a half years of life that the adults have ever refused to leave their coop the minute the door was opened.

    I can't figure it out! Input? It's raining and I really don't feel up to standing outside with them all day, but will if I have to.
  2. Ceilismom

    Ceilismom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2010
    NW South Dakota
    Could something of a predatory nature been hanging around either the window or been visible from the window early this morning, or perhaps during the night?
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:That's what we suspect at this point. I got DH to go out there with me and have a look around, fresh eyes. Still nothing out of the ordinary.
    It's going to be a rainy, dreary day, so as soon as we can get Maggie and Lilith back in the coop - they're not cooperating - I'm going to lock the pop door. I guess it won't hurt them to spend the day in their coop. They have plenty of food, water and space. Maybe they'll feel better about coming out tomorrow. [​IMG]
  4. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2009
    Leicester, NC
    I've written almost this exact same post a year or so ago!

    I just couldn't figure out why my girls wouldn't come out, searched every tree for a hawk, nothing. Good ole BYCers assured me there had to be something out there that was frightening to them and to get a second set of eyes to inspect. DH and I went out with a pair of binoculars and sure enough, a huge Red Tailed hawk hidden in the top an 80 ft. tree.

    I'd keep looking, there's something out there that they just don't feel right about.

  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Well I got Maggie and Lilith back in and locked the door. We have to go to town later and I don't want to leave them out with the flock being so troubled. I guess they know what's best for them. I'll keep an eye out today and see if anything shows up.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Sure sounds like a raccoon, owl, bobcat, hawk, something scared them this morning at that window before you got there. Sounds like what you are doing is reasonable. Maybe if something tried to get them and could not, it will not put their coop on its regular food-searching route. You might want to leave them locked up for a couple of days. Good luck!
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    I would guess that the hawk has been hanging around. Perhaps even hanging on the window to the coop. When my pigeons refuse to come out to fly or are not out in their aviaries If I look around I will spot a hawk skulking somewhere. Unless it is migrating a hawk will continue to check out the areas where it has made a kill. I'm betting on the hawk as your problem.
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Yeah, I'm watching for one. So is my rooster.
    Yesterday the chickens were out in the garden foraging when my roo saw something. When he made his alarm call my hens ran so fast for cover (under the eaves of the pump house) that two of them actually hit the building. I looked all around, but I couldn't see what it was that he saw.
    With all this going on it's the first time I've been tempted to figure out a way to build the chickens a pen. The thing is, the adult flock have been free ranging since they were just a few weeks old. I can't imagine them ever being happy being penned up. Free ranging is all they've ever known.
  9. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Has it been windy? Mine act spooky when it's windy.
  10. turbo13

    turbo13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2010
    If you have a dog,that you can trust,let him check out the yard.maybe he could lead you to some sort of culprit.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by