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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

A Memorial and A Reminder

The reminder--Chickens are very hard to defend against chicken hawks. Cooper Hawks they are called, and their eyes are bigger than their stomachs. The whole hawk isn't much bigger than a chicken, but chickens are delicious, so hawks kill them anyway, especially when the chickens are enjoying their free range, open to the sky.

The memorial--When a chicken is out in the open, the hawk will haul them to the fence and pluck them clean, leaving the pile of down for you to find--like Butterscotch's fine winter underfeathers. If the chicken is too heavy, like poor old Toffee, the hawks pluck a few feathers but leave her in the stock tank, too late for the dogs to save her. There's nothing DeeDee and Scooter--the most loyal of guard dogs--can do in time to stop such a sudden attack from the sky.

I thought Butterscotch was safe, hidden under the bushes in the rain storm. I thought Toffee would be okay in the yard, even though it was windy. The only thing I can suggest is that you leave your chickens in a large chicken-wire-covered pen with an apple tree for shade, especially on stormy days, especially when chicken hawks nest in the neighborhood. What else can one do?

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