How baby songbirds saved my chickens June 22, 2012

Chickens aren’t the only birds we care for around here. We seem to have a rotating cast of winged stars that stay at our cottage a while before returning to the wild. Or, in most cases, our cottage *IS* the wild, and we’re just friendly neighbors who mind our business. Some birds stay for just an hour or two, like this stunning creature whom I found, well, stunned beneath the plum tree one year:

stunned songbird

Hello, beautiful

I would have preferred to leave her alone to see if she’d recover on her own. However, our roosters don’t take kindly to strangers, and when I saw them spot her, I had to intervene. I scooped her up carefully, examined her for injuries (nothing apparent) and waited. She sat on my knee for a while, a little more than an hour, and then fluttered to the porch rail. Shortly thereafter she seemed to come out of it, and flew away.

Some neighbors are not so welcome. We have to fight to keep the starlings out of our rafters, for instance. There are a lot of pileated wood peckers around here, too. I love to see them, but the chickens think they’re hawks, and run for cover everytime one flies over with its laughing call.

We have other avian neighbors we love to see, though. For instance, cardinals nest in our butterfly bush every year, and we get the pleasure of watching a brood grow up right in front of the porch:

cardinal babies

They look hungry!

We also have bluebirds that nest in a box nearby.  We rarely see those babies until they fly, but when we had something scare one of the babies out of the nest one year, I got to see the brood as I replaced the baby in the nest.

bluebird baby

They never look happy about anything!

By far my favorite neighbor songbirds were a group of three phoebe nestlings. I thought *I* was saving them, but as it ended up, it was the other way around.

I’m not sure why I even noticed them, really. I’d been loosely tracking their nest for a while, simply because the birds were in our open barn, and one of our hens had been laying her eggs in the hay we kept for the goats, beneath the nest. I thought it was a barn swallow nest at first–we have lots of those–it was mud and straw and plastered into the beams of our barn. However, after catching sight of the mother feeding the young, I was inclined to think they were some sort of flycatcher. We have lots of those, too, but I’m afraid the glimpses I got of the mature bird were in the dark of the barn, and knowing there was a nest there made me rather inclined to stay away most of the time. She was dark grey and had a slight crest on her head, with a lighter breast, perhaps buffy sides. Eastern Phoebes.

I did notice that the babies seemed rather–well, droopy. Very quiet in the nest. Perhaps it was the nature of that species, but I was concerned. Even during those rare moments when I happened to glimpse the mother visiting the nest to feed the babies, they seemed listless and not inclined to gape. (Gaping is what altricial baby birds do when they open their mouths wide to be fed by mama bird.)  I got so concerned that one day I finally peeked in the nest to see if I could find if something was wrong. One had died, and I removed it. The others were crawling with red mites. In chickens, and I presume in baby birds of all species, this can be deadly and cause anemia. I was in an agony of indecision as to what to do! I tried to get in touch with an acquaintance of mine, Julie Zickefoose, sort of a master bird rehabilitator (among other things!), however she was out of town. Finally, I just left them alone; just kept an eye out whenever I checked for barn eggs.

A few days later, I was horrified to discover that the whole nest was GONE. It had been torn down, or fell, maybe. I was able to find three of the four still-living babies on the ground below, and–since there was no nest to return them to–brought them inside. They were cold and ill, and were still crawling with the mites. I went back out later and searched fora long time, but I never did find the last baby.

I am not an expert at baby wild bird care; as you readers know, I take care of chickens, and they’re very different! Worse, I didn’t know how old these were, perhaps a week old or so, maybe more. They were mostly feathered, with fluff still lingering on the feather tips. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I DID know they would die without intervention of some sort. Only one was strong enough to even be able to lift its head. With Julie out of town, I had to go by instinct for a while. Naturally, the best thing would have been to put the fallen baby birds back in their nest… but when the nest is gone, THEN what do you do?

Their recovery and release is a long LONG story,  so I’ll just cut to the chase. They did recover with warmth and attention, and when Julie returned a few days later, she was generous in helping me understand what to do, and in sharing her own experience. Thank you, Julie! With Julie’s advice, I was able to keep them healthy, feeding them a mixture of crickets, mealworms, and kitten food mushed with yogurt. It was the worst looking baby food, EVER.

Eventually, they learned to catch insects on the wing, and flew away. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy and sad at the same time. Still, for a week or two after that, I had little birds flitting around my head every time I went outside. They landed on my head, on my shoulder, clung to my shirt, sang me little phoebe songs. Occasionally, they would leave a dead bug in my hair. I wondered if it was a birdie thank you. I had saved them.

me and one of the baby phoebes

You’re welcome, cutie

It didn’t occur to me until much later that they had saved my chickens, too. When I saw they were covered with mites, I checked our flock and discovered that they were also infested. It was that hay in the barn; mites just seem to love hay and straw. (Yes, this is another post warning about the potential problems associated with using hay or straw with your chickens. Except I didn’t even use it; I just had it. In the barn. Far away from them.)

Pine or aspen shavings: good. Hay or straw: bad.

Phoebes in the planter

Planter: good? They took over this potted plant on our porch for a while, and the plant really suffered (I didn’t want to “water” their adopted nest!)

So, thank you, baby phoebes. Thank you for alerting me to the mites in the hay. My chickens most certainly thank you; I’m glad the infestation didn’t have to get bad enough that I had to notice it from signs of illness in my flock. Thank you for helping me catch the problem early! And thank you for the buggy hair. Who would have thought that bugs in the hair could be so heartwarming?

phoebe posing for the camera

Thanks for saving my chickens, little one



Please comment below about how an unexpected person or creature helped you with your flock, for a chance to win a copy of  Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry.  If you don’t have a flock, yet or if you don’t have an unexpected helper tell us instead why you would like to receive this book! If you are on Facebook, you can read there about another way to enter (and you can enter both ways for an extra chance to win!).

Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds is a fabulous guide to all sorts of domestic fowl, including 60+ chickens, turkeys, waterfowl and more! You must be a US resident to enter. (The winner will be randomly selected, and contacted by email… you must respond promptly to claim the prize!) Contest ends June 29, 2012.

Kyle Bowser June 22nd, 2012

When I let my hens out to free range I am on constant lookout for hawks. we have quite a few in our area. Starting a few months ago, whenever I see a hawk flying over my yard it is followed by a murder of crows trying to dive bomb it and chase it away!! They must have a nest near my yard, but I am very thankful to them for keeping my girls safe from hawks.

Lissa June 22nd, 2012

That’s great! The crows mob the hawks in my area, too, Kyle. (Unfortunately, they also eat our apples…) You can even see some videos of crows harassing hawks on our website.

brandy June 22nd, 2012

I one have one hero, my Sammie Lou rooster. He was crowing funny one day so we went to check on the chickens and he was running along the fence poofed up and ready for battle against a hawk. He sent all of the hens inside and was challenging it who was sitting under the tree next to the coop. Good job Sammie!

Lacy June 22nd, 2012

I haven’t had my flock very long, so, thankfully we haven’t had any scares yet. I keep a variety of chickens and ducks. Storey’s Guide would be a great help in keeping my mixed flock.

Barbara S June 22nd, 2012

When we first moved here, I was so excited that I could finally have my own flock! I eagerly set up pens and housing for chickens, ducks and turkeys. I bought the chicks and lovingly raised them and moved them outside, only to have them brutily murdered by predators! 🙁 I briefly gave up, not wanting the heartbreak of losing any more. A few years went by in which Tucker the llama came to be part of our farm family. I dcided to try again with chickens since Tucker was so alert and vocal when he saw fox and other critters. Well it has been two years since I welcomed my little flock of hens and they did so well that this year, they are happily free-ranging!!! Thank you, Tucker… you’re the best!

Lynn June 22nd, 2012

I am in between flocks right now. My disabled son is the one who raises the chickens, I just help him. I am building better chicken coops to keep the dogs/coyotes from killing them. I would like to get this book so that my son and I can make better decisions on which breeds are better suited for him. He likes to look at the pictures and pick out the ones he likes the look of, And the info in the book will let me pick the ones that fit the temperment and difficulty level that he needs.

Carol Schanz June 22nd, 2012

After I put my first chickens outside a bird hawk showed up. One day I heard a racket going on outside and it looked like the sparrows were driving the hawk away, haven’t seen it since.

Alicia E. Pearson-Bellard June 22nd, 2012

We just got our first chickens this spring and are loving them We got the last Tetra Tint Pullets that our local Tractor supply had at a really really good price. Then we were able to get some Rhode Island Red hens. We were then given a pair of Rhode Island Reds. The Hen has laid once so far and we have a gorgeous rooster! We are still learning even with all of the advice and the information that we have gotten from the internet. Having a book to guide us in the different variety’s would be helpful in diversifying what we have as we will likely expand the flock!

Karen June 22nd, 2012

A Cooper’s hawk has been after my small urban flock of two hens for almost 3 years. I started feeding the neighborhood crows by putting peanuts on my porch roof every morning. Now the crows hang out and chase Mr. Cooper away! In addition, the crows now recognize me and loudly beg me for peanuts whenever I go outiside or look out my porch window.

Dannie June 22nd, 2012

When I got my first bunch of chicks I set up a little brooding box on the back deck. I thought it was a safe and secure place, draft free with everything they could need. My only real concern was our two barn cats who hunted everything and our basset hound-beagle, Buddy. After all his breeds made him a potential hunting dog. One late night while my husband, Buddy and I were all tucked in to bed, a freak storm moved in from the south. When Buddy woke me whining and crying my first reaction was to tell him that I could hear the rain outside and he would just have to hold it til morning! But he was insistent. Finally I drug myself out of bed and followed him down the hallway. When we got to the living room, I turned toward the front door but Buddy, still whining and dancing around went for the back door. Now I was really confused, but opened the door for him anyway. He ran to the chick brooder, crying and dancing with such urgency that I ran out into the storm behind him. As I got closer I could hear the distressed cries of the chicks. The rain was blowing directly into the brooder. The chicks were standing in a shallow puddle, soaked through and through and in serious trouble. I grabbed a laundry basket and shuttled the chicks into the house with a very concerned Buddy by my side. He stood with his paws on the edge of the bathtub, tail wagiing while I dryer and warmed our chicks with a hairdryer and towels. Without that silly little dog, I would have lost all 25 chicks that night. Buddy saved the little fuzzy flock!

John Kipfmiller June 22nd, 2012

Our story is pretty much the same as others on the bird type story buyer actually have the squirrels chattering and sounding the alarm when Hawks are near or any other danger

Meadow R. June 22nd, 2012

It was my first year as a backyard chicken keeper. We had built a coop, and let the chickens settle into their new home. Everyday was spent looking for the fisrt eggs. Several months into having the new flock I noticed some commotion with the hens. As I got closer I noticed my rooster laying on the ground not moving. When I made it to the coop I noticed the hens were very nervous and not wanting to go up to the laying boxes. As I opened the side to check in the boxes I was met by a big, long black snake! I was horrified. After calling in some renforcments, and removing the snake, along with White Knight as he was known (might I add my youngest son named him this for knights who protect the ladies in stories), we discovered we had a chicken snake with a belly full of eggs. We think he became exhausted in the heat which was 100+ that day trying to get the snake out of his home. So thank you to White Knight for protecting the ladies and alerting us to the danger.

Susan June 22nd, 2012

Nutmeg, our city-dog-turned-farm-dog, valiantly protects the poultry from raccoons ( and stray dogs. One time a guest arrived from far away with her two big dogs in her vehicle. She kept her dogs in her car because she was afraid they would attack our free-ranging poultry. Well, one dog accidentally got out and just as we feared began chasing the terrified chickens around the yard. Nutmeg suddenly appeared out of nowhere and intervened, getting between the dog and hens and growling and somehow telling this dog that chasing chickens is not allowed — he stopped in his tracks and left the chickens alone!

Martha Waugh June 22nd, 2012

My french bulldog, Spike, is flock guardian at my place. Being lazy is his game, so he suns in my garden close to the chickens. We get a lot of hawks, foxes and cats roaming and he will bark his flat face off to warn the girls to get in the hen house. I was surprised the first time it happened and thought it was a fluke, but it’s become the norm with any predator. The girls won’t come out of the hen house until he stops barking.

April June 22nd, 2012

I have never had an instance where a wild bird saved my chickens. Around here we have hawks but our Pekin duck is the watch out and makes a ruckess when a hawk is spotted then all the flock runs for cover.
I also use straw as bedding and have never heard of negative issues with it, I guess I should check my flock , but they all look healthy to me. I wont be switching anytime soon, straw is cheaper and easier to clean out, plus my flock consists of ducks and chickens so shavings would be a huge waste in one night.

Sara June 22nd, 2012

I don’t have a story about how someone saved my flock. They are only a couple months old. I do have a story about how my dog saved me. I was in the yard weeding and noticed a deer in the yard staring at me. All of a sudden the neighbors dog came out and started barking at the dog. The deer charged the dog and started stomping on it. I figured if I yelled at the deer it would run away. It didn’t. The deer took a couple menacing steps towards me. I took off my shoe and threw it at the deer. All of a sudden, the deer charged me. I was standing there with five small children! I yelled at the kids to run inside. I turned to run and could feel the hooves come down right behind my head. I started to run and could actually feel her breath behind me. She was still trying to stomp me. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw this black blur. I knew in my heart then, I was okay. It was our rescue dog Mac. He grabbed the deer by the back leg. He held the deer down and I had a chance to get the kids inside. Then I went back. The deer and the dog battled for about ten minutes. Every time the deer could it would stomp on the dog. I tried to help but couldn’t get in there. Finally, the dog got the deer into the stream. The deer got the upper hand and was stomping the dog into the stream. I grabbed a huge rock from our garden wall and threw it at the deer. The deer snuffed it’s nose at me and ran up the hill opposite the stream. It stayed there for a few minutes glaring at me and then ran off. My dog was unharmed. He is my hero.

Gwen June 22nd, 2012

What an amazing story. Wow.

Nicole June 22nd, 2012

I do not yet have a flock, in part because although I have done thorough research (read both guides on your site, and about all the FAQs), I feel like there’s always more to learn and I just have to know more before I get my own flock of birds! My library has a very limited selection of nonfiction poultry books (I have only ever found one book!), and the local bookstore is half the size of the library. I feel that Storey’s Guide would be a great asset to my knowledge and good to have as a go-to guide for when I do finally get a flock!

Esther Widgren June 22nd, 2012

Great story! I am a new chicken keeper and am constantly worried about potential dangers to my little flock. In particular the threats presented by infections and infestations of the local wildlife. I know there’s not much that can be done about it but this proves it’s important to remain vigilant! Thank you!

I’ve borrowed Storey’s Guide to Poultry from the local library and would LOVE to actually OWN a copy!

Elizabeth June 22nd, 2012

Hi, my neigborhood birds chase away the red tailed hawks in my neighborhood, mostly crows and the occasional scrub jay. My poor chickens seem to be very attractive to hawks! As a lover of chickens and books, I would love to win a copy of Storey’s Guide to Poultry! Thank you.

Carol Johnson June 22nd, 2012

My Maine Coon cat Shelby loves to hang out with the chickens and chicks. He helps to keep the mice and chipmunks at bay. But one night he brought home a weasel he had killed. Shelby certainly saved the flock that night.

Elizabeth Adams June 22nd, 2012

I had the best ‘watch cat’ for my chicks. Whenever I could not find my chicks and pullets in the yard I would just call Taz and she would answer me. She would be laying and keeping watch over my chicks whenever they were out even if it was after time for them to return to the roost. Never a predator but protector for them. A good girl to the end. 🙂

Linda Krendl June 22nd, 2012

We just got our six chicks this spring. Our male cat Peanut is our hero. We didn’t know we had weasels, but when Peanut brought it to the door, we knew we would need to reinforce the outdoor run we were planning on building. He is also the best mole and mouse killer I have ever had!

Judy Jacobs June 22nd, 2012

I’d just been released from the hospital after messy major surgery, and my doctor was out of town, not able to get the approval for the longer stay I really needed. My husband alerted me, some time after dark, that there was a snake in the chicken tractor. Still very woozy and weak, with no glasses, no shoes, and a big incision across my belly, I staggered out to deal with the snake. Our little dog ran alongside, and barked furiously as the very large copperhead finally uncoiled and slid out under the hardware cloth. Fortunately, none of my three hens was harmed, and I was lucky not to have been bitten during this clumsy intervention.

Julie Zickefoose June 22nd, 2012

Wow, Llysse, baby phoebes aren’t for pikers. They’re TOUGH to raise–I know–I raised two a few years ago. I’m impressed as all get out. Don’t know if you’re aware of my new book, The Bluebird Effect, but the phoebes’ story is told there with watercolor illustrations, along with that of 25 other species. Your photos are so charming. I”m also amazed you could raise them without using a flight tent or other enclosure…you must have no free-roaming cats around. Feather mites are so yuccch. I have them in my bluebird boxes again this year and am constantly replacing nests and cleaning out the boxes (I take the babies out and dump the infested nest, swab out the inside of the box and in really bad cases I dash the box out with superhot water then swab it with paper towels, build a new nest of fresh dry hay and then replace the babies–I’ve saved several clutches already this year that way). I can’t imagine getting mites in the chickens and straw, what a persistent mess…one good reason to keep chicken houses WELL away from human houses.
Thanks for this lovely post.

Alana June 23rd, 2012

What an incredible story! I am new to chickens and don’t have any stories like this yet, but would use the book as a reference. Great for a newbie like me! Thanks for the opportunity!

Sheryle June 24th, 2012

Would love the book. We had chickens a few years ago and we have been thinking aobut getting some more. I am sure the book is full of new information we could use.

jason chastain June 24th, 2012

My white silky rooster, Miss Tipsy, stands on constant guard ready to defend the rest of the flock from harm. Living in the country, we feed our table scraps to our cows that reside behind our house. On occasion my sister’s cat, Brownie Button Derrieberry, will wander over and help herself to the scraps. Miss Tipsy just goes crazy. He will fuzz up and squawk and crow and carry on till Brownie Button leaves. Oddly enough he doesn’t make a peep when the hawk that wants to eat him shows up.

Alexis June 24th, 2012

i don’t have a story but i am new to chickens and i would like to have the book for my little brother, he loves chickens (1 1/2 years old) and i think he would like something like this

Laura June 24th, 2012

When my now-stepfather moved down to Texas from NYC, he brought his prize pedigree pigeons with him and created a coop in my backyard. I already had 14 free-ranging chickens, including 3 roosters, in my yard. Unfortunately, the local hawk population was picking off the pigeon population (say that 3x fast!). My 12 pound gentle-giant Black Copper Marans rooster, Mr. Roasty, soon stepped in. Whenever the hawk went overhead, Mr. Roasty would start the snarling “death cry” and the pigeons would take off into the bushes and trees to hide. If the hawk had the audacity to land, he would take on the hawk head-on, snarling and lunging. We still have hawks but a lot less dying pigeons. We have an interesting symbiosis…the dogs also protect the chickens by keeping the cats away. When they’re not “hard at work,” you can see my 100lb Black Lab rescue sleeping with my huge Plymouth Barred Rock. They all hang out together. I wish I was able to send pictures through this form. 🙂

Chris June 24th, 2012

I wish I would have had a helper like these birds. I am fairly new to keeping chickens. Unfortunately I lost 3 birds to mites before I figured it out. This article was very handy to me. I will now stop using straw and stick with pine shavings.

Judy Keith June 24th, 2012

The hero of my flock is always, without a doubt, my faithful dog Moe. He takes his job of guarding the flock very serious and keeps predators at bay. We live out on the open plains in Wyoming, so we see just about everything. Moe’s taken one for the team at least once, and required a skunk bath before we could stand to thank him. I enjoy your blog, read it daily, and have found so much beneficial information. Thank you for sharing!

Margaret June 24th, 2012

I have only had my hens for a few months and have no story about being saved yet! My daughter and I adore our girls, who weren’t supposed to be pets…..uh huh. All have names and one is a lap hen, one insists on roosting on my shoulder any time I lean over in her vicinity and I HAVE to give them all good night rubs when I close the barn up each night! We would benefit greatly from this book as we would learn even more about chickens and perhaps how to spoil them even more than we already spoil our five girls!

Jen Cooper June 24th, 2012

What a wonderful article. The only bird currently in my life is a Congo African Grey parrot named Paulina. We’re currently living in a condo but hope to have the money for a down payment on a real house saved up soon. I’ve already checked the town ordinences and we can keep small flocks of hens, no roosters, here in town. When I finally do get my flock I wonder what Paulina will think of them?

Donna McKnight June 24th, 2012

We put up a bird feeder in our backyard so that we could look out the kitchen window and see all the pretty birds eating and fluttering about. We have a regular visitor who is a red wing blackbird. When the chickens see him on the feeder they all come running and gather below it because he has the habit of kicking some of the food out of the feeder into the grass below. The girls love cleaning up after him. Whoever spots him first will let out a certain cluck to let everyone else know that he is there and sharing goodies. The blackbird seems to enjoy the company while he eats.

Petra Cooley June 24th, 2012

We are a home school family with a flock we love. Our 7 year old son has spent countless hours with our chickens. I don’t have a hero story but think the book would be very wonderful!

Cheryl Martin June 24th, 2012

We have only had our flock for just over a year. We started out with 1 serama pullet then aquired a sultan pullet, both house pets and wearing diapers. Both were so sweet we began increasing our flock one bird at a time and had to build them a home outside, We now have 5 breeds……….silkies, sultans (white & black), seramas, OE. and our newest addition 6 tiny little mille fluer D’uccle. We love them all but this book would help us learn more about the standard of each breed and the best way to care for each. I started my own FB page on poultry which helps us to find answers to many of our common problems and provides an outlet for our excitement over these well loved pets but the book would offer so much more.

Ted Matthews June 24th, 2012

Our family’s chicks are coming on the 15th of July

To say that we are excited, maybe me more than anyone, would be an understatement. It’s a good thing we had to order 3-4 months in advance to get the chickens we desired. The couple dollar investment per chick is trumped only by the mandated deliberation on whether our family is a fit for a small backyard flock.

NO ONE seems to have a bad chicken story, well I guess almost no one. The ones that don’t like the idea of them envision a Salmonella outbreak and lice swarming overhead in the billions, or maybe just some unleashed creature uncontrollably pooping all over the neighborhood.

Anyway, I want to thank my neighbor Bob for committing to the building of our coop. Without him, his craftsmanship, and table saw, I would be putting together some A frame coop. Bob has given my chickens a home, and in style I might add, so to him I say, “thank you for helping us with me with my pet chicken flock.”

Cheri Kaelin June 24th, 2012

My chickens are free range or pasture raised totally free open barns go in and out on there own… I quit using locked up at night method, because no matter what I did something would get in and kill my birds and they had no way out they were trapped in this large run and barn. I felt like I was putting them in a no out situation I lose a lot of eggs this way at least they have a fighting chance… Occasionally with them being free I was still is having trouble with occasional raccoons, possums, bobcats, and coyotes.. Then New Year’s day two Great Pyrenees showed up beautiful full blood I found out after tracking down the breeder amazing dogs with some of the stupidest names I have ever heard but that’s a whole other story. Very long story short one of these brothers now guards are small-town firehouse and Smiley his new name guards farm and is an amazing dog that protects my chickens and the entire family, he is so happy to have his own home and family he had been on a 430 acre Deerfarm never with any human contact and fed from a deer feeder it was so sad. I am so glad he escaped and found my farm he had traveled approximately 3 miles. After I located the owners, I found out they had been loose for approximately 6 weeks it took me that long to track them down. They did not want the dogs so they both have great new homes..;-). Cheri Kaelin. Angel Hill Farm

Sarah K. June 24th, 2012

I would like to win this book for my daughter. She is 6 and loves animals and our new chickens. She would love this book just as any book about animals she devours and then can tell you everything she read.

Alicia June 24th, 2012

My unexpected helper is my 10 year old daughter. Before we had chickens (about a year ago) she disliked animals. We have pets other than chickens, and she avoided them as much as possible and wanted little to do with them.
Much to my surprise, she seemed quite taken with our original chicks (as well as all the future chickens). She’s with them in much of her spare time caring, feeding and playing with them. She’s become a devoted “Mommy” to them. This has changed her for the better, I’ve noticed over the year that she’s become more responsible, caring and empathetic. Yay, chickens!

stacy June 24th, 2012

I’ve started raising chickens about four years hubby knowing my longing to have chickens surprised me with a beautiful rooster who I both became very attached and bonded with..but before my hubby turned him over to me he gave me a very steern look and said ” you have to tell me now you would have no problem shoot a racoon, dog, or whatever may be attacking the chickens ” with a not a problem my flock grew quickly to 10 hens and my beautiful rooster after w couple summer of no incidents with having anything attacking my flock I thought I was in the clear..then in one night I lost 4 hens..and after talking about what do and doing everything we could think of to our coop and after loading 3 more we dicided to go to our local pound and find us a beagle guardian..within a few hours of being at his new home he trailed a smell to a dew abandoned old barns that sit at the end of the property where we found the sad remains of my lost flock…later that week we cuaght 4 raccoons and now year later we haven’t had any attacks thanx to our little gaurdisn

Henrietta June 24th, 2012

Several years ago, we were woken out of sleep very early in the morning by what sounded like an army of crows outside the window. Upon looking out, we saw a Huge owl in the chicken pen. The crows were sitting in the trees nearby and crowing their heads off at that owl! Sadly, the owl did kill one of our young roosters but we were able to scare it away and after that we made sure that the tops of our pens were covered to prevent it happening again! Now whenever I hear crows making a ruckus, I know there is something they don’t like sneaking about!

Hector Plaza June 24th, 2012

I would love to receive the book! I just ordered my first chicks and they’re going to be arriving in about 3 weeks. I’m so excited I really have to finish the coop and make sure everything is ready for their arrival.

joAnn June 24th, 2012

I love Phoebes! While I haven’t had one help with my flock – (Just had the girls a year last month.) I did have one play sentinel years ago when I rescued some Mocking Bird babies.

I was living in an apartment at the time and I had placed the babies in a breeding cage on the balcony so the parents could feed them. For the next few weeks I had a Phoebe stay with them on the phone line nearby or even on the balcony. She’d retreat a short distance when the parents came by to feed but as soon as they left she was back. She’d go to the cage and just peer at them at times.

Another curious thing she’d do is come take a closer look if they called when I neared the cage to feed them. She’d act distressed until she saw I was only feeding. Then she’d stop flying around beeping and settle down again. I am convinced that she was watching over them but cannot for the life of me figure out why.

As for the book – I’d love to have it since I am at the beginning of my urban homestead. I have started out with two BLack Stars & two Easter Eggers. I’d like 3 or 4 more girls to add color to the flock and to the egg basket. I love having great pictures of great breeds to show my friends who had no idea chickens came in such a fabulous array. Can’t wait to have some of those fancier girls in the back yard!

Sharon June 24th, 2012

Why would I like to have “Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds”?

Quite simply put, WE LOVE OUR CHICKENS! :o) It would be great to have such a lovely resource about them.

Thank you and God bless you! :o)

Lisa M June 24th, 2012

Phoebes are my favorite backyard bug-catchers too. They find all my hornet & wasp nests and keep my family and chickens more safe. We always let a couple of swallows nest close to the aviary to help keep the mosquito population in check.

Chel June 24th, 2012

My (inside) dog saved my chickies from certain demise. He found a stray cat lurking around their run on his potty break. He made such a ruckus, I haven’t seen the cat again.

bradyn ford June 24th, 2012

I once had a skunk that was living under my shed (right next to the chicken coop), thanks to my neighbor we caught him in a foot trap and disposed of the little creature, plannig on making a lunch of my chickens. I would love to recieve this book, I can’t absorb enough chicken knowledge !!!!!!

Jennifer Meyer June 24th, 2012

My dog, Clover, an American Foxhound, gets credit as our early detection chicken-saver! When I received my first little box of peeping joy, I set it on the bed while i readied the chick food, water, and heat lamp. My lab-mix, Sugar, took one sniff of the box and ignored it, but Clover listened, sniffed, and began dancing for sheer joy.

“Here goes,” I thought, as I slit open the packing tape, worried about Clover’s hunting instincts. Sugar lay on the bed with her butt toward me, pointedly ignoring the peeping box. Clover observed as I lifted the chicks two and three at a time into the new box on the floor. She looked into the box on the floor, then into the box on the bed, then at me, watching the transfer carefully. When it was finished, I picked up a single, tiny black chick and held it out to her.

I didn’t want to offer her one of my fancy breeds, you see. They were the striped chicks. If she killed it, I would prefer to lose a black chicken. I already had several black adult chickens given to me by a neighbor.

Eagerly, Clover stepped forward, nuzzling the fuzzy little baby aggressively as she inhaled its scent. She knocked it over in her enthusiasm. “Gentle, Clover.” I pulled it away and then offered it again. More cautiously, Clover nuzzled it, then extended her tongue in a cautious lick. Within moments, the little chick, later named “Shamrock,” was damp with its new mother’s love.

Did I mention the baby chicks were to spend the first month of their lives in my bedroom? She spent nights sleeping next to that box. She spent her days watching it. If she happened to step away for a moment, a peep brought Clover racing back to investigate the source of the disruption. She didn’t seem to tire of hanging her head over the side of the box, watching the antics of the chicks.

At about two weeks of age, they began to fly out of the box, which made them emit loud alarm peeps, rather like the sound of a truck backing up. This caused Clover to come find me, so I could put her chicks back in the box.

When the chicks were four weeks old, they moved outside, to the spacious chicken coop Inhabited by my seven Black Orpington crosses. Clover slept outside for the first week or two, but when her chickens displayed a distinct preference for staying inside the coop at night, she decided she didn’t like sleeping in the children’s fort and came back into the house. However, she didn’t sleep in the bedroom any more, either. She needed to be able to hear what was going on out there. Any disturbance in the back yard, and Clover was at the back door, setting up a ruckus fit to raise the dead.

Finally, when a raccoon killed two of our chickens, we installed a dog door so she could have instant access to the back yard and the chicken coop. Her babies have been unmolested since.

Brenda Davalos June 24th, 2012

We have 21 chickens and 2 turkeys that are about 5 months old. We added a mini flock of 6 chickens and 2 peking ducks that were brooded together in the garage. From the first day we put them all together the ducks would protect the little 7 week old chicks from any of the older birds, even the turkeys that are close to 10 lbs each

sc June 24th, 2012

How do you treat the red mites?

Donna June 25th, 2012

Our 10 laying hens have a 10×10 enclosure they stay in when we are at work but as ssin as we get home we have 10 chickens begging at the gate to be let out. Our “chicken dog” Jack is their official guardian when they are foraging in the yard. He weighs less than 10 pounds but if any of our other dogs gets too close to his girls he goes after them. Same goes for our ancient cat, if she even looks at the girls Jack is after her. Most of the time he lays in the yard in the center of where they are foraging and will even enjoy a good dust bath in the raised bed we provide for the hens to use.

Roxanne June 25th, 2012

I would love to get this book because I’m new to backyard chicken keeping and need all the help I can get!

Donna June 25th, 2012

I have an indoor tuxedo cat who watches my flock at the living room window and always alerts me to any unusual noise or ruckus outside with the chickens. I have been alerted to a stray dog, raccoon, even an owl late at night who was perched on top of the post near the electric fence!! I have learned to trust his instincts and ears!! He also watches me when I go out to do feedings and general maintenance, at any hour–even in the dark of night I can see him peering out the window as I walk across the property to tend to my birds.

I have befriended crows who I thought would help with predator alerts–but they are too friendly now–and go in the nesting boxes or near my porch where I put my collected eggs during the day and they start eating the eggs!! LOL.

With a flock of 85 not including 7 roosters, I believe Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry would be a great asset to me, in distinguishing between similar breeds and learning to recognize the differences in breeds that are so similar. What comes to mind is the Barred Rock, Dominque, and the Cuckoo Maran–if I had had this illustrated book a while back I would have seen the slight differences in each breed and known that the local feed store had mislabeled the breeds–easy to do especially with leg color, etc. I wanted an exclusive flock of Barred Rock but ended up with all Cuckoo Marans!! Plus there are other breeds very similar in appearances,so this book would be so great to have!!

Sarah Clough June 25th, 2012

I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks and really enjoy reading it. Well done on saving the chicks!

Is it the noise that chickens use to identify birds of prey? I saw one of my girls dart across the garden yesterday and looked out to see a buzzard, I was surprise she’d locked it out. Very unusual to get one over my garden, I’m in a UK city (albeit quite a green one). I also have a couple of three day old chicks and wondered if they’d attracted it – if they have I feel I should be worried! Fortunately this time a (solitary) starling (I think) chased it off.

Lissa June 26th, 2012

Chickens are visually oriented, like most birds. I think they respond most strongly to visual signs of predators like birds of prey; roosters keep watch for anything flying overhead and if they see something suspicious, let out that dinosaur-like roar of warning. Young roosters are so cute; when they are learning/practicing for that sort of watch duty, mine even sound the alarm at butterflies and hummingbirds. It doesn’t take them long to adjust their danger meter, though!

Linda June 27th, 2012

Being new to raising my own chickens, I would love to have this book. I think it would be very helpful in raising my mixed flock.

Dylan clevenger June 28th, 2012

The first time I ever let my chickens free range a hawk decides to fly over and swoop down.. My dog jumped up at the hawk right as it was going to get a chicken and messed that poopr hawk up, haven’t seem the hawk since.

Janice June 28th, 2012

We have been raising chickens and ducks since we bought our hobby farm five years ago. I cannot imagine my life without them. We had one predator attack two years ago when a fox carried off one of our girls. We were all (grandkids and I were outside at the time) very upset. We decided to get two livestock guardian dogs since the fox had been in the pasture with the sheep and goats. Our Maremmas arrived last year and have kept the predators at bay. Thanks for the info in this blog. It was excellent information.

Kim June 28th, 2012

I am new to chickens. I have 9 all different breads. I would love to have the book to learn even more about these guys!

Julia June 28th, 2012

My dog watches our four chickens when they are out in our yard. She has chased off hawks, possums, raccoons and even a red fox one time. If I hatch chicks, she watches them very closely and becomes worried if any of them cry when they become separated from the rest. Great job raising the phoebes!

Julie Pease June 28th, 2012

We’ve just begun our country homestead – less than a year ago – and we have a flock of chickens that are about 4-5 months old and have just received 25 baby chicks via mail this morning! We have a lot to learn and would love to receive this invaluable resource. And my mother’s maiden name is Storey to boot! I have lots of cousins around these here Texas parts named Storey! Would be awesome having this book in my library!

Lauren Murphy June 28th, 2012

We have crows that attack the hawks that fly overhead here. While I was walking the other day I found a dead crow and I thanked it for protecting my flock.

Wendy Thomas June 28th, 2012

I tend to take in strays and little creatures who are injured. It started with some day-old mice I brought home to my mother when I was a child. Even though those newborn rodents ended up dying, the important thing was that my mom let me try to help them – something I’ve carried through to my adult life.

So when I went to the NorthEast Poultry Congress in January, it wasn’t totally surprising that I came home with a day-old crippled Black Copper Maran chick that was scheduled to be destroyed due to her deformity.

“Let me at least try to keep her alive,” I pleaded with the breeder. She relented and I took the impossibly tiny chick home.

We let the baby get used to our house for a few days, and then my son and I performed the delicate surgery needed to release her webbed toes, allowing her feet to spread out with the hope that they would ultimately hold up her body weight.

Defying all odds, the little chick named Charlie (after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because her breed lays chocolate-colored eggs) not only survived but thrived. Within a week, she was walking about, roosting and even scratching for her food – all skills that a healthy chicken needs.

The only problem was that January is the wrong time of year to get a chick, because baby birds can not regulate their body temperature until they become fully feathered at around 6 weeks old. This meant that we had a chicken living in our house all winter.

Charlie soon realized that the members of her flock were of a different variety but accepted us nonetheless. She roosted on our shoulders as we watched TV, took naps with our Maltese dog and generally acted like a puppy, following us from room to room demanding her treat when we’d give one to the dog.

It is now summer. Technically, there is no reason for us to keep Charlie in our house, except that at this point a chicken in the house has become a pet in the house.

Sure, there is a little maintenance as she occasionally drops feathers, poops when she wants to, and scratches in the food dish spreading feed across the floor, but we just pick up the feathers, clean her poop (we even have chicken diapers for that particular problem) and sweep up her food.

At some point this chicken will have to learn how to live outdoors, but for now Charlie still lives in our house because none of us has the heart to put her in the coop with the other chickens.

She’s become a valued member of our family who taught us that it’s not the flock you’re born into that is important in life – it’s the flock you make.

Kathy Wynne June 28th, 2012

We have a Great Pyreness to gaurd our goats. It wasn’t long tho’ before he took over the chickens too! He is wonderful at chasing anything that comes near them. We also have a West Highland Terrier who looks at the hawks circling our yard & barks at them to let us know, who would of thought?

Meg H June 28th, 2012

I don’t have a flock yet, but we are working hard to pay off our house so we can by a bit land to have chickens and other animals. Hopefully soon! In the mean time I am soaking up all the knowledge I can about our future animals and I would love to add this book to my library!

Wolf June 28th, 2012

We have dogs and cats that look after our chickens. They have chased away virtually every predator, from hawks to bears!

Sue Johnson June 28th, 2012

I had some biddies once that were having trouble adjusting with the other biddies. The other ones began pecking their heads until they were bare of feathers, fuzz, or skin. I thought they were going to die. I finally took them out of the pen with the others and put then in a pen with my favorite old mother rabbit that was proven to be a good mother. She care for these chickens until I was successfully able to put them in with the other chicks…I have learned that just because one is a different animal, doesn’t mean that she is unable to help another.

Deanna June 28th, 2012

I would have to thank all the little wild birds in my neighborhood for helping me with my small flock! I use them as a hawk barometor and it works quite well!! When ever I have my 3 girls out in the garden with me, I always pay attention to the wild birds, if they are singing and chirping and roosting on the wires and rooftops, I know all is well, as soon as it gets quite and they are suddenly out of sight, sure enough…a hawk!!!

Debra Nelson Luraas June 28th, 2012

My Buff Orpington hen keeps the flock safe. One afternoon I heard her clucking loudly – like after she lays an egg, but it was afternoon and she lays in the morning. On going to see what was going on, I saw a BIG garter snake slithering through the chicken yard. When I entered the yard the snake left quickly. Good girl , Buff Edna! Story’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry would be a good addition to my library. Thanks for the give-away.

Judy Else June 28th, 2012

Thanks for the sharing the story! I do not have my chickens yet; they will come in August. However, in preparing the area where I will be keeping them, I too noticed a birds nest in the exterior end of the rafters of the shed that shares the space. I have not figures out what type it is yet, but there sure were some interesting bird sounds (not babies) coming from inside. We will begin building our coop and run on July 5th I sure hope we can do this without disturbing the new little bird family!


Rebecca June 28th, 2012

Roosters are not legal where we live, and we have many furry predators that will go after a chicken, not the least of which are the big old Norwegian Rats. I was under the impression that hens were defenseless because they are always so friendly to me.
I was not there to see the attack but I heard the most blood curdling squeals coming from the back yard and ran out the back door to find our little Barred Rock hen Bella standing on the rat who was missing both ears most of it’s tail and had large wounds on it’s sides (I actually felt bad for the rat)! The rat died horrible death and I couldn’t find a wound anywhere on any of the hens. We dodged a bullet thanks to Bella.
You Go Girl☺

Alex June 28th, 2012

I see hawks flying overhead all the time. Mostly they are further down the street and way up high circling. To my knowledge, I have never had a problem with hawks or Owls going after my small flock. I accredit the Bluejays in and around my yard to that. Bluejays are always in my yard, making nests and rearing their young. I imagine they drive off all other flying birds and even each other. Two doors down are colonies of Purple Martins and they maybe an easier and more plentiful target for the hawks but either way, my birds are safe.

I love the different breeds of chickens and like looking at all the kinds of poultry. I would really enjoy Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry.

Thank you for the contest,

Jeremiah June 28th, 2012

One evening while practicing tuba, I heard our rooster and turkeys making an awful commotion. I ran outside with the tuba as a bald eagle was swooping up one of my layers. With no other option I blew my horn as loud as possible. The eagle tilted and veered awkwardly into the woods. Three weeks later the chicken it took returned to the coop unscathed! She now known as zombie chicken.

Becky Beverly June 28th, 2012

I am on my second group of chickens. . Got a better coop and permanent location. I loved my Dominiques I had first and now have Rhode Island reds. Love the info I get online and a book from the library.. I am very eager to be getting eggs again in about a month. They love the greens I give them from my garden and kitchen. They dive into it as soon as I put it down for them. They seem to be managing the heat spell we are having. Hoping it doesn’t last long.

Alexandra LaMaster June 28th, 2012

I would like this book because I really don’t have any books for my chickens. They are my pets and whenever something is wrong and one or two gets sick. I’m so afraid and stressed out but I don’t have a guide to tell me what to do. I have to look online, and sometimes that doesn’t work or it’s too slow. A lot of these things are affected by time.

Leah chamberlain June 28th, 2012

My border collie, great Pyrenees dog hates hawks and when ever they come around he chases them away. We use to have chickens but they were eaten by a bear one night. But eventually we would love to try again with a stronger coop and bear deturent to keep the bears away. This book would be very helpful to a newbie like me.

Jennifer Johnson June 28th, 2012

My Bassett Hound, Jackson, is my chicken guardian. He sits and watches the girls when they are out in my non-fenced-in backyard enjoying the grass and bugs and whatever else they can find. He follows them when they move from one area to the next and lies down, but does keep one eye open! We do have MANY bald eagles in our area (Wasilla, AK) and they fly over the house & yard routinely. I feel much better when my Jax is out of patrol, and thank goodness, no issues with eagles so far!!
I am brand new to chicken keeping and my girls are now almost 13 weeks old. We are super excited to see when the first eggs will appear. The book would be a great resource for a newbie like me… I just cannot read enough about chickens! I am hooked!!

Donna Masci-Bredin June 28th, 2012

I let my chickens free Range and have for a year with no problems..But about a few months ago the flock got really loud.. I mean almost screaming. I normally just realize they are laying an egg, some are louder than others when laying. But I realized they were all Crowing in rhythm Together at the top of their lungs…Mind you all the windows and doors were closed and I could hear them extremely loud. I go outside to find a Hawk flying away as it heard me come out of the door. All the Girls were surrounding one of my hens who was laying down, as i got closer I was devastated thinking she was dead..but as I walked to get a shovel to bury her she got up and Ran back to the flock. If it were not for my Girls crowing so Loud together and getting my attention to scare off the Hawk I would have lost one of my Girls who is my Favorite.
So I Thank my Flock for saving My Dear Sweet Ameraucana.

Christina June 28th, 2012

My hero is my dog Riley. He is a Shih -Tzu. Although he isn’t your dainty type. He is a big beefy dog that spends most days on our front porch. When he is outside, I know he will bark if a predator is near. And he make several roundtrips down to coop and back. I think he is “patrolling”.

Sandra M June 28th, 2012

I would love to have that book, my friend recommended that one to me as soon as I started thinking about chickens! I don’t have any stories to share because I just got my chickens a couple months ago…they are actually a little over 10 weeks old. But I am already obsessed with them and would love to have that valuable resource! 🙂

Linda Noble Brown June 28th, 2012

Our Australian Shepherd, Seele, has raised our chickens since they were a few weeks old. They were great “doggie TV” when they were small. Now they literally “rule the roost”! While Seele tries to keep them safe, if she sniffs their rear they will turn around and peck her nose. They are an interesting cross-breed flock.
All our neighbors love our chickens, and so many seem to be getting flocks of their own now. I appear to be our neighborhood’s chicken-lady (since we were the first on the block), so I would love to have this resource – to help everyone!

Erin June 28th, 2012

I am just about to order my first chickens of my very own. After switching careers a few years ago, I began learning to farm at a couple different farms. I learned a ton, and am so grateful for the experience. But, I am happy to say that I just last month bought my own place, a little one acre homestead. And to make it really, finally feel like home, I’m getting my own flock! I’ve loved caring for other people’s livestock and gardening for them, but I am so happy to be starting my own thing.

gab June 28th, 2012

i would like to win this book , so we could use it for our homeschool . granddaughter loves to look at chicken books [ i have ONE magazine ] , she also likes looking at chicken websites [ my pet chicken is a favorite ] and tell me all about which chicken she wants … she is 8 .

for me personally , i;d like it , so i would know what i am doing . [ actually husband needs it more ]

Lisa woolley June 28th, 2012

A cute story…we have shelties which are herding dogs. Once upon a time, our gate was left open and our chickens escaped. We worried they would get out into the tall grass and brush and scatter and we might not find them all again or worse-coyotes might get them! But our trusty shelties herding instincts kicked in and she began to circle them and herd them back into an enclosed area and saved the day!

Allison Almond June 28th, 2012

I would like to win this book, because I have my first flock and currently they are on ceder shavings (so glad I just read about how hay is bad – my friend uses hay and tells me all time how i am spending too much money on shavings and how I should switch the hay) so I sent him your link so her can read up about mites and respiratory infections and see if hay is still “cheaper” LOL

Moira O June 28th, 2012

what a wonderful story! thank you for sharing it…lucky lil feathered friends!
i have a brood of 13 and it is my first as an adult and in memory. flying by the seat of my pants i am but have been able to find answers to pressing questions…how to sex, cutting wings, what to feed from table and now i am hoping you can tell me how soon should i be ready for nests? the girls should lay around end of august…should i have materials ready to go?
thank you!

Donna June 28th, 2012

Early one morning I spotted a skunk heading toward my chicken coop. My little dog, Perate (French & pronounced like Pee-dot) also spotted the skunk and ran toward it, stopping about 10 feet away. I think he thought it was a neighborhood cat. The skunk then ran toward my dog with its tail pointing straight upward. I screamed for the dog and thank God he came. The skunk was frightened away. Animal Control loaned me a skunk trap but I haven’t captured it yet. Luckily my dog was spared a spray and my hens were spared a fright and maybe something worse.

Robyn Demeuse June 28th, 2012

Two summers ago I went to my local feed mill to pick up my 6 precious peeps with my rat terrier Izzabelle. Chickens were brand new to me and these little sweeties were barely a day old. I’m not sure who was worse. Me or Izzabelle for sticking our heads into that little peeping box of wonder! Soon as I got them home, I opened the box to check our new babies. Izzabelle instantly protective of them, wouldn’t let anyone other than me or the curious cat near them. With a sniff, she put her nose on each one of them. Whenever I’d take them out to run around in the backyard grass, she’d be right there with them the whole time making sure they stayed where they should. Every night when it was time to make sure they were all settled in and okay till morning, she’d want into their mini-coop. With a sniff and a nose poke to each, then she’d want back out. Had to make sure her “babies” were safe and sound. This went on until the peeps got to be full grown. She is still often found sitting near where they are roaming keeping an eye on them all. On occasion, my crabby Abbie (rhode island red) does sneak up on Izzabelle and gives her a poke in the butt before running off. Then its back and forth for a bit as they play & tease each other. Funny how a small little dog, who never had pups of her own, got to be so protective of these 6 precious little peeps now bigger than her.

Tamara June 28th, 2012

I would love to get this book because I am trying to prove to my dad that chickens are a “must have” for our farm. We own 147 acres of land, and I want to change that. I looked up all different kinds of farm animals and caring for them, but in the end it was the chicken who stole my heart:)).. With the help of my boyfriend, (hes giving me the chickens) and my persistent mother, i think our chicken dream will become a reality!!

Tracy Burger June 28th, 2012

We own pygmy goats for our daughter to show in 4H. But, we have a problem keeping coyote and unleashed dogs off our five acres and away from our goats’ pasture. We have seen dogs circling the pen, running the goats mercilessly, and trying to either jump the fence or dig their way in. After several close calls and some gruesome tales from other less fortunate goat owners nearby, we invested in a guard llama.
Laddie had never been used as a guard before, but we hoped his ancestors’ natural dislike for canines would awaken once he bonded to our herd of pygmies. It did! But, we were in for a surprise. Not only did Laddie learn to protect the goats and chase them into the barn whenever danger threatened, he began to ‘herd’ the chickens that free-range with our goats, as well! And it was as much of a surprise to them as it was to us!
It was quite entertaining as this new relationship began to take shape. Laddie would run at the ‘girls’ swinging his neck and head wildly at them, but the hens could not figure out what he wanted. They ran helter-skeleter trying to escape the ‘mad’ creature who suddenly seemed to be trying to kill them. Laddie would become so frustrated with these seemingly disobedient chickens, he would begin bucking and rearing in his attempt to chase them from the field. One day, he finally did frighten one of the girls so terribly that she panicked, flew up into the air, and landed squarely on Laddie’s back. Now, it was Laddie’s turn to be afraid! He ran and pitched in a panic until the offending hen was thrown from his back.
Now, he was a bit leery of the hens and kept his distance from them for a while. Time passed while the llama and the hens foraged together in the pasture eying one another suspiciously. But, it wasn’t too long before Laddie resumed his protective role. It took a few weeks of training, but that llama finally got those hens to run to the barn whenever he ran at them, stomped, and gave out a few warning clicks or his unique ‘alarm call.’
But, Laddie’s guarding instincts have surprised us over and over again. He has guarded our girls from many potential predators, including feral cats, that he has discovered lurking about the pasture fence. His senses are so keen, he spots danger that is still far off and warns our flock soon enough that they tend not to even believe there is reason to run. Then, Laddie kicks his warnings into high gear until the hens are afraid not to obey him. These early warnings give them time to run/waddle their way to the barn before the predator gets too close. To our amazement, Laddie even warns the girls when a large bird circles overhead. He chases after the bird and drives it from the area. Often, after successfully routing a predator, Laddie will stand guard at the barn door, chasing the girls back inside if they venture out before he feels it is safe. Then, as if nothing happened, they all return to the field together–Laddie, to help with the mowing, and, the hens, to remove all those noxious bugs from our pasture 🙂

Stacey June 28th, 2012

Our family of five is just starting with a flock of six hens, the coop will arrive next week! We call my Mom “The Chicken Whisperer” because every time she holds one of our girls they snuggle down and fall asleep in her lap. I had chickens when I was growing up and am looking forward to raising them with our children. I know the basics but could use this book to learn much more.

Tonisha Beckham June 28th, 2012

I know this may sound silly, but couponing helped save my chicks. Over the past 6 months I have taken a serious interest in couponing and it has saved my family quite a bit of money. My husband and I have also searched for other ways to save money and to spend family time together with our children. We decided to raise chickens. (He had minimal experience as a child. But it is a brand new experience for me.
After building our coup from an old lean-to shed that was falling apart on the back of our property, we started in search of chickens. A good friend of ours works at the local animal shelter and she informed me that they had some hens and a rooster that had been confiscated from a family who was keeping them inside city limits illegally. The shelter manager was more than willing to give them to us because the shelter is not really set up for the care of chickens.(Mostly just domestic animals) We were now ready for our family learning experience!!!
Approximately 2 weeks later, we, unfortunately, learned the hard way about the dangers of turtles. In 3 days, we were missing 2 hens and the rooster. We immediately double secured our coup and cleaned the pond to the best of our ability. We also noticed that 1 of the two remaining hens was setting. We gathered all of the eggs and placed them with her. To our surprise, she gladly set on 23 eggs!!
On fathers day, our eggs began to hatch!! 2 days later we were up to 11 chicks with 5 more cracked and ready. Then the unforeseen happened. Our second hen decided she now wanted to set and climbed into the box with the 1st hen. They began to fight and were quickly causing much damage to the remaining eggs and one of the hatched chicks was stepped on causing its neck to snap. We quickly removed both hens from the box in order to take the remaining chicks and eggs. It was a windy day and the chicks were getting cold quickly. I called my husband at work, but it would be hours before he could get home with a heating lamp. Towels weren’t doing the job. I was very worried and didnt know what to do!!
That’s when I remembered my coupons. My daughter’s initial response was “Mom, I dont think that a bunch of paper coupons will keep the chicks any warmer than the towels” I kindly thanked her for not having a little more faith in me. I had remembered that in my freebie cabinet, I had accumulated a stack full of Thermacare heat wraps. We grabbed a few and made a bed inside of a dog kennel and covered with the towels. The chicks were nice and warm again!! In a few days, when we were sure that no more eggs would hatch, we returned the chicks to the coup where the hens seemed to split the chicks and immediately began acting as mothers!!!
As of today we are proudly watching our 14 chicks grow with each passing day!!!!
Without my coupon freebies, I dont know what I would have been able to do in order to keep our chicks warm!!!!

Myra June 28th, 2012

I can’t think of any hero stories for our birds but we do love having them around. The book would be great to learn about all types of fowl.

deana June 28th, 2012

I was outside in my garden weeding earlier this week and my geese and ducks were just going crazy and kept telling them to be quiet. Till I realized it was not the normal ruckus but a different kind of yelling and screaming. So I turned around to see what the problem was. They were all lined up as best as they could be along the fence line and just staring what I thought was out in space so to speak lol. I turned around and saw one of my Silkies walking around but that was not unsual so I walked over to see what she was up to and another of my silkie hens but did not see anything. So back to the garden I went but one of the geese was chasing me along the fence line till she got my attention I asked her what was wrong. So she proceeded to walk me to the other end of the fence line and stared down. I had to really look to see what she was looking at Well when I finally saw what the commotion one I found 2 little baby silkie chicks near the fence line just playing in the grass. The mom’s were not far behind but I did not realize they were that close to being born. So I gathered them up and showed the mom’s I had them and took them to the brooder room in the garage for them to be under a heat lamp, and showed them how to eat and drink the water. They are in there with the other 6 that were born a few days prior. They are all doing well and having fun.

Jeanmarie June 28th, 2012

We adopted a couple of barn cats last year, but it turns out the two of them didn’t get along. One, Blackjack, got kicked out of the barn, and he migrated towards our chicken coop, which is just beyond our house. So, since it was winter, I started putting him in the chicken coop at night, hoping he’d help keep the rats under control and stay warm. Eventually he figured out our dog door and moved into the house, despite the presence of three cats and three dogs already. But he worked his way into our hearts. Blackjack still follows me out to the chicken coop morning and evening, and just sits and watches the chickens, occasionally chases a songbird that tries to get in on the sprouted seeds I’ve tossed out for my chickens. They ignore him, he largely ignores them. He never chases them. I don’t have proof that he has caught any mice or rats, but I like to think he’s part of the security force around here.

Lily June 28th, 2012

My heros are my three fantastic guinea hens. Whenever there is a hawk or other predator near the coops, they sound an alarm telling my chickens to run and hide. Without them, I would be constantly worrying about my flock. But luckily, the three little angles always make sure my chickens are safe and protected. Thank you guinea hens!

Carol Trochelman June 28th, 2012

I would love to have this book. Besides that I have wanted it for a while now, we just bought 12 acres in West Virgina and I would love to have this book to help me decide what breed of chicken I want to get. Besides, I like looking at the pictures.

Chad Ritter June 29th, 2012

The “wildlife” will alert us in many different ways, if we just pay attention. I have always observed behavior of the local wildlife, and keep 10 wild bird feeders all around my property as well as provide bird houses for the birds to use. I have 22 laying hens, a big garden, and nest boxes around my property (5.5 acres) for my hens. As I do each spring/summer, I stay alert to birds, they do talk to you if you just learn to understand their sounds, both happy singing and distress calls. The State Bird of Texas ( yes I’m from Texas, north east) is the Mockingbird, and they are one of my favorites, I mock them right back and sometimes they land really close and we whistle and call back and forth, I have done this for years. Each summer when we bale hay all around, the snakes start to move. And the Mockingbirds will “dive bomb” rat/chicken snakes moving across open fields, so I can intercept them when they approach my small farm (I catch and relocate them), but this is the first time I have had the Mockingbird Patrol alert me to a bigger problem moving in to my flock that were chasing grasshoppers through the garden, 2 Coyotes !! They were in slow and low stalk mode, and I was in the house. The main 2 Mockingbirds (Bill & Ted) are always outside in the morning when I turn my hens out, but we’re not there on this morning, so 20 minutes or so had passed and I was watching the news and drinking coffee, when THUMP thump THUMP !! On the kitchen window, I go look out the window and see Bill & Ted, making their distress calls, so I grab my pistol and head outside, I see 2 male coyotes 30-35 yards from my hens and they have no idea the Wild dogs are even close, I fired a warning shot into the ground which turned the predators around and across the 50+ acre open field in a sprint, then I was able to put a couple “rump shots” in the pair of chicken hungry dogs. So interact with your surroundings and slow down and pay attention, even talk to them.. They may save your hens one day !

Cluckington June 29th, 2012

I love your blog! Great stories! I’m new at chickening and have just started my first flock. I have four girls that are pre-layers, and I’m learning as I go along. So far the coop is sufficient but I’m making a few improvements today. I have read “Backyard Chickens” from cover to cover, and I would really benefit from your book. More importantly, so would my chickens!
Either way, thanks for the great story. I’ll try and figure out how to “follow” your blog.

In feathery peace,

Maxus June 29th, 2012

THIS IS THE BEST GIVEAWAY!!! I have been wanting to get this all year

Julie Graves June 29th, 2012

Such a neat story.

Mary Honyak June 30th, 2012

I have only had chickens for a year now, but have learned so much. And I also have noticed how all the wild critters keep my birds safe. From the little Chipmunks to the Crows and Blue Jays they all give warning when there danger nearby. So for that reason their feeders are always full and the birdbath is fresh!

Holly German June 30th, 2012

Uh oh… straw and hay bad?? I just put straw in my coop!! I guess I’ll be cleaning it sooner than I thought! :/ Thanks for the information and thanks for helping the babies!!

Loré Kingsbury July 13th, 2012

Just discovered your site/blog. I’ve so enjoyed reading these stories. Over the years, I’ve kept chickens and ducks. I don’t have any at the moment but am reinspired to get back into backyard chickens.
Just a little side story, my husband and I, 5 years ago lived on the edge of the Suisun slough, on a canal. The garden was quite large but not entirely fenced. My younger sister was notorious for starting things and “not finishing”. She had gotten 4 baby chicks from the feed store and grown tired of caring for them. Jim and I built a henhouse (w/ a 2′ x 3 ‘ pen) with screws. Some screws were stuck with their tips outwards facing to keep predators from standing or leaning on the fencing section of it. Ouch! Obviously their little pen was too small for them to live in once they began to be “teenagers”. I loved having them join me as I worked long hours in the garden transforming it to lush and blooming. Problem being that one day I ran inside to use the bathroom and when I came out the littlest chicken, the banty, was gone. Being next to the slough, it could have been possum, raccoon, coyote, snake, turtle or even otter. Most likely it was a hawk. After that, I decided that we’d have to fence the underside of the deck to protect the chickens when we didn’t want to be outside with them. Once fenced, they had over 30 square feet with a 2 foot high ceiling to roam. The three chickens seemed very happy with the new situation.
One day we came home after dark and still had to put the chickens in their coop for “real” protection. They had taken roost on the exposed plumbing under the house. It was at the back and to the side of the deck. Have you ever tried to wake up a chicken after they are good and asleep?! Nearly impossible! Anyway, with flashlight, much verbal encouragement and a spoonful of marmalade, we discovered they could be coaxed out and properly/safely put to bed.
I often miss those days living beside the slough and “the girls” and I gardening together. Thanks again for the reminders of joyful cohabitation with some of God’s colorful creations. Kudos.
Loré Kingsbury

Heather Harris July 20th, 2012

I do have a home flock but have been luck so far as not to have any problems. I am trying to learn as much as I can about caring for chickens so I can be the best care taker and friend they could have.

Eleanore November 16th, 2012

Hw can you tell they have mites?

Lissa November 16th, 2012
Brooke March 19th, 2013

AAwww!!! What a great story! My brother and I saved a bird once. I saw it the same evening, and it let me come right up to it. Then, it left. Do they stick around with you?

Lissa March 20th, 2013

We helped these for several weeks, and they were very friendly… so much so that it worried us for a while! We were afraid that they would never leave us and be birds off on their own. But they did leave after all and to all appearances did very well.

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