Wednesday evening, I went into the barn to close the chickens’ door, and I noticed there were only three hens in the coop. So I called for the chickens (they’re better at coming when called than the dogs!), and I heard one of them start “bock-bock-bock”-ing in the distance, basically telling me that they saw something scary. I went out behind the barn and could see the two hens at the edge of the woods, but they wouldn’t come any closer. So I started to walk into the weeds, which made a hawk fly up from the ground and into a tree. Ah ha. The hens still wouldn’t move, so I picked them up and carried them back to the coop.
Close call, I thought.
Except what I realized in the morning was that I had miscounted. I’d thought I’d seen Mister Chicken roosting with the hens and the young boys on the window sill, where they like to perch. What I’d really seen was Red (one of the young roosters) sitting with the hens and the two Juniors on the window. My first thought (hope) was that Mister Chicken was still out in the woods, hiding. But I knew why that hawk had been on the ground. And, sure enough, his remains were right where the hawk had been. I hadn’t even looked over there the night before, because I thought all the chickens were accounted for.
I’m sure he was caught because he was protecting his hens. Either he actually charged the hawk when it came for a hen, or he was left out in the open, keeping lookout while the hens hid in the woods. He was the best rooster — I didn’t even know roosters could take such good care of their hens. He always kept an eye out for threats (while the ladies milled about without a care in the world), and when he found a particularly tasty treat, he’d call them over instead of eating it himself.
I’m hoping one of his sons will take over his role with the same dedication he had. Red (in the second photo; Mister Chicken is in the top one) is mature and crowing right now, while the Juniors aren’t quite there yet. The hens are being nicer to the boys now, but they haven’t completely meshed as a single flock.
Farewell, Mister Chicken — can chickens fly in chicken heaven?