Friday, May 23, 2008

Coyote attacks

It was about 10:00 this morning. I was sitting at the table talking to my friend from grad school who will be moving back to Denmark next week. I was chatting and casually looking out across the pond when I saw the geese collectively rise and head to the pond with wings flapping. A brown coyote came leaping over the tall grass snapping at the adult geese. When his front feet hit the water, and he still did not have a goose, he turned and started snapping at the goslings who were still on dry land. From the moment I saw him, I started screaming, "Coyote! The geese! There's a coyote attacking the geese!" I went running onto the deck, still screaming, calling the coyote a few not-so-nice names. Katherine jumped off the deck about the time the coyote grabbed a gosling. He kept snapping, and it looked like he grabbed two of them, but I didn't think he'd be that ambitious. Mike came running out of the basement, asking where's the coyote. I told him it had taken off behind the pond. "Katherine's going after him!" Mike ran after Katherine.

I counted the goslings on the pond. Four. I counted again. Four. A few minutes later when Mike reappeared behind the pond, I yelled at him to count them. He counted four. There were six before the attack, so the coyote did grab two goslings. Mike came limping back to the deck. When he stepped up, I noticed he had lost a slipper somewhere in the grass as he was running. Later I learned that Katherine had taken off barefoot. She didn't come back for more than half an hour. She was determined (as usual) to at least get some answers. She thinks the coyote ran east; the humans ran south. I think the coyote ran west because that's the direction that Porter, the English shepherd, ran. I think his nose is better than our eyes.

Last week, we lost a turkey hen who was sitting on eggs. She seemed to have a nice secluded spot. It was under a fallen tree with lots of branches and tall grass around her. It was difficult for me to find her nest, but I don't have a coyote's nose. When I was coming home one day, I saw turkey feathers scattered on the unplanted corn field across the road. After parking the car, I walked to the place where the turkey had her nest. She was gone. There was nothing left but a pile of feathers, broken egg shells, and three cold, unbroken eggs.

If there can be any consolation, it would be that at least the goslings died quickly as the coyote crushed them. The turkey hen's fate was probably much worse. From seeing coyotes in action, we've learned that if they feel safe, coyotes will grab a bird, hold it down, and start to pull out the feathers while the bird is still alive. That's why there was a huge pile of feathers next to the turkey's nest.

It's unlikely that we'll have any home-hatched turkeys this year. A bourbon red hen had been faithfully sitting on eggs until the last day or two. They're not fertile. One exploded. Yes, it stinks horribly. Maybe the turkey hen also thinks it stinks. Maybe that's nature's way of telling her that it's time to give up and move on.

The coyote is definitely a problem. Now that he thinks he has discovered a wonderful buffet of poultry and water fowl, I doubt he'll want to move on. Last fall, we'd lost six lambs before we decided to have someone sleep in the pasture for more than a month. That was the only thing that got them to move on. The gosling attack was in daylight though. I'm not sure what we're going to do.

1 comment:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I think seeing such things would turn me into a pistol-packin' mama (actually, I prefer a .22 rifle). I'd be seeing red, and probably not be safe to be around! Off to lock my sheep and chickens up for the night....

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