The other evening, the chickens -- who were just starting to settle down in their coop for the evening -- started clucking in alarm. It went on and on. Don and I scanned the area for coyotes but saw nothing. The birds weren't quite settled in, so we couldn't close the coop door. But why were they cackling? Who could tell?
It wasn't until a few minutes later, while escorting Mr. Darcy out in the yard, that I saw the source of their discomfort.
Yeah, if I was a chicken, I'd cackle too.
This is one of two juvenile great horned owls that hangs around here. He's clearly growing up in size, though he still has the juvenile screech-call rather than the majestic hooting of his parents. This is what he looked like a month ago:
He may be young, but he's still dangerous (if you're a chicken), and he was brazenly sitting on the garden post a short distance from the coop.
And he was quite fearless. I kept moving closer, taking photos, and he didn't seem particularly alarmed.
I imagine it's tough for a young bird to make a living. The other night I heard him screech down in the woods, then a clatter of falling branches. I could only guess what was going on, but I imagine it had something to do with missing his chance for dinner. Still, that doesn't mean I'm going to sacrifice our chickens for his appetite -- or his blundering hunting attempts.
Interestingly, while he was sitting on this post...
...I noticed this chipmunk right beneath him. Probably he was frozen in fear, though since he was underneath a piece of fencing, he was likely safe.
After sitting there looking majestic for about ten minutes...
...he flew off to a more distant perch.
By this point it was getting too difficult to get a clear photo in the dim light, so I went back into the house.
But first I buttoned up the chickens. This owl may be young and blundering, but he's still dangerous.
If you're a chicken, that is.