We have a flock of four chickens. Buloulou, Lenny, Laverne and Cardboard Box. They have a run that goes around my workshop and into the garden. Everyday I hear their squawks. burbles and mutterings.
In the year or so we've had them, they've attracted all sorts of wildlife to our garden. The local squirrels seem to get on well with them, the chipmunks that live in my woodpile help themselves to their feed, and from time to time various raptors look down hungrily upon them.
Yesterday I heard two commotions in the garden. One from a small hawk (perhaps a Cooper's) leaving behind a clump of feathers from Buloulou. She remained more or less intact, just slightly pissed off. A couple of hours later a larger hawk (perhaps a Red-tailed hawk) left the garden to alight on a nearby telephone wire. No feathers floating around the yard this time and all chickens were accounted for.
Attacks on our chickens are rare. We've found lost feathers before, but never have I caught the culprit red-handed. It might be because the area of the garden the chickens are in has been recently cleared. They don't have as much cover as they used to. More likely is that winter is just around the corner and the raptors are feeling the pressure.
Their food supply is starting to dry up. Some of their prey have already migrated away, others are settling down to hibernate. This is their last chance for substantial meals before the quiescence of winter.
I don't begrudge the hawks' efforts. In fact I understand their motivations. As a craftsperson I rely on art and craft fairs as a marketplace for my work. I have a few more winter craft fairs and then comes the quiet of the New Year. There's a pressure to perform, to achieve the most I can while I can.
The kinship I feel for the hawks reminds me of the seasonality of my work. I have to wait for specific times of the year to harvest certain materials. I experience the feast and famine of a busy summer and slow winter. Woods express different characteristics at different times of the year.
The hawks also remind to try new strategies, even if they don't always work. So I might just start cheering the efforts of the hawks. But quietly, so the chickens don't hear me.