Nursery days

Enjoying breakfast outside is one of the pleasures of the spring weather. Today I could hear the sounds of baby birds begging for food. Magpie chicks out the front and a Pied Currawong in the back garden.

The bird in the back garden is a special case. The little Pied Currawong was blown out of it’s nest during violent wind storms about 10 days ago. We consulted our local vet practice who advised that if the parents were still looking after the baby we should focus our involvement on keeping the chick safe from ground predators. We took their advice and have had some interesting times since.

The adult Pied Currawong feeding the chick

Our first decision was to try and keep the chick in one of the outside chicken runs. This way the parents could easily feed the baby but the fences would provide some safety from the local cats, dogs and foxes. The chick had other ideas. This little bird has hopped around and over the fences we hoped might keep it in the safer parts of the garden.

It was more difficult to decide how to handle overnight management of the chick. The first night we couldn’t find the chick and despaired to find it again. Yet the next morning there it was several metres up a tree! Unfortunately it didn’t take long for the little bird to be hopping down from it’s safe perch. Since that first night we have opted to put the chick in one of our pet carrying boxes each night. The box stays outside where the adults can see the chick and I get to get up at day break to let the chick out. It’s a good thing we did this, as a few days ago I walked down to let the chick out and found a cat’s collar and bell on the path only a few metres away from the cage.

A couple of times a day we pick the chick up off the ground because we are worried that it could also be attacked by our chickens (sometimes chickens act in unpleasant ways). I have learned the hard way to give the chick a sturdy stick to hang onto, so I avoid painful puncture wounds. I also want to avoid handling the chick as much as possible.

We don’t expect the chick will be around for much longer as every day it’s wings carry it a bit further into the trees. It still remains fully dependent on the parents for food and looks like that will be the situation for some time to come. In the interim we enjoy our small visitor while the parents remind us that we are tolerated as helpers, but that’s all.

Chickens – a truce is declared!

I reported at the end of October of the arrival of our 5 new chicks. Since then they have grown quite rapidly and we have been working to introduce the new fowl to our two existing hens. I must say it hasn’t always been a pretty sight.

Our boss hen took her pecking order very seriously and made sure that all the chicks knew, exactly, who was in charge. The youngsters were so scared of her that they all huddled as far away as possible when she came anywhere near them. It seemed unlikely that the two groups would ever get together.

We also know that we have a young rooster somewhere in among the newbies. We have heard some very adolescent-sounding crowing early in the morning, but as soon as we get close to the pen he goes stum.

This week we finally took the step of bringing the two groups together in the same pen overnight. It didn’t go well. TB went to check them before we went to bed and discovered that all the chicks had somehow gotten out of the main pen and were forlornly sitting on the edge of a big flowerpot – well except for the littlest Frizzle who has such fine feathers that it has problems getting up off the ground.

Next morning revealed where they had pushed through the mesh in the corner of the pen. Duly re-nailed into place we tried again. It wasn’t much better the next night, except they didn’t escape, they just huddled underneath the hen house. Then on the third night they actually entered the pen without any herding and they went into the hen house. Now they are even roosting in the hen house. As you can see a strict hierachy is being maintained. And yes the littlest frizzle is still having trouble getting onto the perch.

All quiet in the hen house – for now